McCarthy has only himself to blame for his woes

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Kevin McCarthy loyalists are seething with anger over his ouster from the position of speaker. It would be understandable that they would be angry with Matt Gaetz and the seven other Republican congresspeople who voted for him to go. But they seem to be even more angry with Democrats for not voting to keep him in his position, acting as if it were an unprecedented betrayal, even though it has always been the case that it was up to the majority party to vote in and keep the speaker and that the minority party always voted against.

At his press conference, McCarthy blamed the Democrats for what happened but Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez was having none of it.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) railed against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calf.) for blaming Democrats for being ousted from his leadership role in a historic vote. 

“Does anyone believe for one minute that McCarthy would help elect a Dem speaker ‘for the institution’?” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “McCarthy’s hubris is a theme. He loudly stated he wouldn’t negotiate [with] Dems, called virtually none, trashed those who helped w/ [a continuing resolution], and then expected Dem votes for free?”

The anger is manifesting itself in petty acts such as the interim speaker, a McCarthy loyalist, abruptly removing the courtesy offices given to former speaker Nancy Pelosi and former majority leader Steny Hoyer. And they promise more acts of revenge. I sometimes wonder if they have any strategic sense at all. At a time when their party is so dysfunctional and engaged in an internal civil war, their childish acts are only serving to unify the Democrats who are smocking them for their failure to get their own house in order.

Their logic seems to be that since McCarthy agreed to deals to raise the debt ceiling and to a 45-day continuing resolution, that Democrats should have been grateful to him. What they seem to be overlooking is that raising the debt ceiling and funding the government is the most basic responsibility of Congress and it was McCarthy’s job as speaker to get it done. In other words, he was not doing it as a favor to Democrats that they should repay by supporting him. In fact, time after time seemed to make deals in meetings only to publicly renege on them.

People close to the president considered McCarthy a fickle and unpredictable partner. When McCarthy met with Biden in person, he typically presented himself as a sober negotiator, clear-eyed about the give-and-take of bipartisan governance. Then he would go out in public and brag about his refusal to bend on conservative demands.

On a particularly sensitive matter, McCarthy mocked Biden’s age and mental acuity in public, while privately telling allies that he found the president sharp and substantive in their conversations — a contradiction that left a deep impression on the White House.

McCarthy’s willingness to sign off on an impeachment inquiry without holding a vote was seen as a cynical ploy that sapped any goodwill among Biden’s closest advisers. The decision to renege on a debt ceiling deal he brokered directly with Biden, meanwhile, signaled his hold over those in his own party was waning.

McCarthy had never done anything to find common ground with Democrats. Democrats saw him as unprincipled and untrustworthy and that he brought all his woes on himself by pandering to the extremists in his party, starting with serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT), and there would have been no justification for bailing him out. It is too much to say that Democrats hated McCarthy, but it seems fair to say that they had contempt for him. As Charlie Sykes writes;

Some pundits are suggesting that Democrats should have been “the adults in the room” and rescued McCarthy. But this is piffle on stilts, because there was nothing adult about Kevin’s short and lamentable reign, and it would have been pointless for the Democrats to pretend it was worth propping up.

Sykes then. goes on to list all McCarthy’s perfidious acts that pretty much guaranteed that they would not support him. In fact, it is astonishing that the GOP would have any expectation of it, considering that they went all in on the MAGA strategy of demonizing Democrats.

Conservative writer Rich Lowry tries to foresee where the GOP is headed.

Where do things go from here? Well, perhaps the vast majority of House Republicans will get so sick of the chaos and drama forced on them by a tiny number of their own, they will find a way to do something about it (exactly what is unclear).

Much more likely, the shocking ouster of Kevin McCarthy is an indication of an even wilder phase of Republican politics to come, with Trump hurtling toward the Republican nomination and perhaps a felony conviction or even jail time next year.

The late night talk shows are back now that the writers strike has ended and Seth Meyers has a good summary of the whole debacle.

Stephen Colbert also weighed in on the fiasco.


  1. Ridana says

    “Democrats who are smocking them”
    Did you mean smacking, smoking or mocking them? I can’t tell, as all would be apt. ;D

  2. says

    I posted this comment elsewhere, but it bears repeating here…

    OTOH, I agree that it makes absolutely no sense, for party or country, for Democrats to vote to keep McCarthy as Speaker.

    OTOH, just think of how House Republicans would have reacted, had Democrats forced him on them. McCarthy would have been permanently and irreversibly tainted by Democratic support — whether or not he ever wanted or asked for it, or made any deals for it — and he would have had absolutely zero legitimacy in Republicans’ eyes from that day onward. In fact, if McCarthy had found himself re-elected Speaker with any number of Democratic votes, his reaction would have been to run away screaming and hide under a rock for the rest of his life. Could he have even done any good at all as Speaker? Would he have been able to bring any order to the House? The more I think about that scenario, the more I’m torn between “OMG what a horrific disaster that would have been!” and “I’ll need another year’s supply of popcorn WOOHOO!”

  3. mnb0 says

    Blame games like this are only evidence for a rotten system and always are an obstacle for finding a way out.

  4. jenorafeuer says

    Yeah, being speaker is too much like actual work and not enough just lording it over people.

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