A battered and bruised McCarthy finally gets his dream job

Late Friday night, on the 15th attempt, Kevin McCarthy finally got enough votes to be elected Speaker. He still did not get the 218 absolute majority that he needed in the reduced 434-member body (one Democratic member being deceased and not yet replaced) because 212 members voted fro Democrat Hakeem Jeffries again and there were six members in his 222-member caucus who refused to vote for him. But he did manage to get the six to merely vote present, which took them out of the calculus. This meant that he needed a majority of the remaining 428 members and he squeaked by with 216 or, as Trump would describe it, “by a landslide that some people are calling the biggest landslide ever”. Of course, the ever-toadying McCarthy thanked Trump for his support though it appeared that the renegades ignored Trump’s repeated pleas to switch their votes.

It appeared that he had thought that he would get the required number on the 14th vote but that fell short by just one vote. That led to extraordinary scenes where McCarthy walked to the back of the chamber to confront Matt Gaetz so one presumes that McCarthy thought that Gaetz had reneged at the last minute on some agreement. At one point another congressman Mike Rogers appeared to lunge at Gaetz and had to be visibly held back another member who placed a hand over his mouth.

The six people who finally switched their votes from ‘no’ to ‘present’ were Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Bob Good, and Matt Rosendale. I list all their names because it will be interesting to see what will happen to them as well as the other 14 members who had originally opposed McCarthy until they switched on the 13th ballot. Will they be rewarded with plum committee assignments as part of the deal for their switch or will they be sent to Siberia for their recalcitrance that led to this humiliating spectacle? In fact, the almost-fight between Rogers and Gaetz may have been over just such committee assignments.

Several GOP members said they believed the animosity between Rogers and Gaetz reached a boiling point over talk that GOP leadership might offer Gaetz the chairmanship of a House Armed Services subcommittee. Rogers, who is set to lead that panel, had grown increasingly angry at the holdouts during the week, and he had initially threatened to try to strip anti-McCarthy members of committee assignments.

It didn’t help that Gaetz told Rep. Illhan Omar (D-Minn.) on the House floor the day before that the holdouts had gotten everything they wanted from leadership, but were still voting against McCarthy, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Gaetz appeared to revel in the drama. He left the chamber and headed to the restroom right before his name was first called during the roll call. That meant when he returned, he would cast one of the final votes — and McCarthy’s fate would come down to him.

We will know better in the next couple of weeks over what deals were struck as McCarthy and the Republican leadership allocate committee assignments.

Fox News has struggled to put the best face on this debacle. Initially, they said the lack of votes for McCarthy was a sign that the GOP was a healthy party that embraced democracy and a diversity of views unlike the Democrats whom they described as sheep who voted in lockstep behind their leader. But as the process dragged on that explanation started to wear thin and even Sean Hannity seemed to get exasperated with Lauren Boebert, one of the die-hard renegades, for her lack of any specific plan for how to end the stalemate.

Thanks to this drama, we have been getting a good look at how the House of Representatives functions and it ain’t pretty.


  1. says

    I’m sorry, but it really annoys me for the media and everybody else to be talking about “lunging” or a near-attack by Mike Rogers. Every time I look at it I see him walking up to and merely leaning in so Gaetz can hear him. And then the guy behind is not trying to cover his mouth; he was just trying to (rather gently) pull back Rogers and in the process accidentally puts his hand on Rogers’ face and immediately moves his hand as soon as he realizes what he is touching.

  2. lanir says

    From what I understand Jim Jordan has already proposed that a House committee get oversight into prosecution of crimes to include current investigations. Such a surprise that he and his cronies might want inside information and ultimate control of investigations they’re likely to have a starring role in.

  3. Holms says

    ahcuah, political media outlets seem to overstating things as a matter of course. If someone makes a comment which prompts a couple of people to briefly smirk, the headlines or youtube video titles will be something like “howls of laughter erupt after stinging comment from [someone] to [someone else]!”

  4. Silentbob says

    @ Holms

    I think I’ve seen the sort of thing you’re talking about. Like if some minority were severely underrepresented in sport, but occasionally won something and the media and blogs were like, “minority X totally dominates sport -- death of sport for everyone not in minority X!!!”.

    Yeah, it’s bizarre how politically motivated histrionics can be so utterly detached from empirical reality.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    This is the problem for journalists (and police officers): pretty much their entire authority rests on the idea that they can be trusted. And for decades, most people have more or less trusted them, at least in part because, y’know, what choice have we got?

    But in the last ten years or so, good quality video cameras have got REALLY cheap, REALLY small, and as a result, ubiquitous. Lots of things have happened as a result. We can now with high confidence discount all the decades of stories about ghosts, UFOs, lake monsters, Bigfoot and other cryptids (I’ll trot out that xkcd link again https://xkcd.com/1235/ ).

    But another thing that’s happened is we can now also with confidence discount a lot of the stories that go like “he was acting in a threatening manner so I shot him”, or “this dude ‘appeared to lunge at’ this other dude”, because cops and journalists are shown, over and over and over again, to just lie and lie and lie, to the point that it’s reasonable to assume that they’re all lying, all the time.

    Over a decade ago someone I knew was involved in a story that made the national news in the UK. I knew the truth of the story. I saw what the newspapers and television news said about it. The facts they got right included which town it happened in, and more or less the time the thing happened. Pretty much everything else was speculation, hyperbole, disingenuous omission or simply outright lies. Talking heads who had no connection to the event were consulted and bloviated from a position of complete ignorance. Questions were asked and answered by people with absolutely no connection to anything that had gone on. What struck me hard was that I could see how someone who had no connection to the story would likely simply take it at face value, and make a judgement based on that, in exactly the same way that *I* made judgements based on stuff I’d read in papers or seen on the BBC. When something like that happens, you have two options: (a) assume that in this isolated case, that just happens to be the one you have direct knowledge of, the information sources you trust have made a mistake, or (b) assume that every story you read is just as much bullshit as the one you KNOW to be bullshit, because why should your story be the special one? It’s quite depressing.

  6. billseymour says

    Holms & Silentbob:  Yeah.  In the recent elections in Missouri, there was a MAGA candidate (I forget her name or what she was running for) whose one issue was “protecting girls’ sports.”  Her one TV ad pointed out that there was a trans woman who was a competitive swimmer at the collegiate level who once won a silver medal in one race.

  7. says

    …“minority X totally dominates sport — death of sport for everyone not in minority X!!!”.

    So…have blacks killed basketball for everyone else yet?

  8. flex says

    @Raging Bee, #8,

    According to a Stephen J. Gould essay (I forget which one), in the 1930’s Jewish basketball teams dominated the sport. Which clearly killed basketball for everyone else.

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