Discover more from The Racket News ™
"By God Sir! I will not retreat!"
McCarthy doubles down on a leaderless and ungovernable GOP
Kevin McCarthy has vowed to keep fighting for his quest to become Speaker of the House, despite a contingent of “burn it all down” members of his own party determined (and able!) to deny him. The last time the House may have been this divided, it took 133 ballots to elect a Speaker.
McCarthy has called on the Name, Donald J. Trump, saying the guy who the January 6th committee holds primarily responsible for trying to overturn an election without evidence of the massive wrongdoing he claims (to this day) “wants to see the Republicans united to be able to accomplish the exact things we said we’d do.” Depending on who you ask, you might get completely different answers on what exactly those things are.
Thanks for reading The Racket News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.
Trump himself is blaming pro-life activists for losing the GOP’s advantage in the 2022 midterms. Perhaps abortion was an issue for certain demographics, but as others have noted, Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the first fetal heartbeat law in Georgia, won big, among others. No, it seems that the one thread that ties the GOP’s lackluster results together is Trump himself. And politicians who climbed all over Trump like a cheap date at a drive-in movie are the ones who have declared themselves “never Kevin.”
But as long as McCarthy drapes himself in Trump, and the longer this drama drags on, the more McCarthy will lose support. And when Trump smells a loser, he will quickly turn on “my Kevin,” a term Trump has used to reference McCarthy. The question is, as German Lopez in today’s NYT “The Morning” newsletter put it, “should Republicans fully embrace Trumpism?” I would answer that “not if they want to win.”
To figure out the ungovernable, leaderless mess the GOP is in, you have to go back to 1855. Rep. William Aiken of South Carolina was a proud card-carrying “Know-Nothing” bigot, and also a member of the dangerous populist Free Soil Party. He wanted to be Speaker, along with nearly two dozen others running the gamut from abolitionists to slaveowners. It took two months and 133 ballots to achieve a majority, where Aiken lost to an abolitionist Democrat, who later became a Republican, named Nathaniel P. Banks.
Banks served one term as Speaker, then left the House to run for governor of Massachusetts, which he won. During the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed the politician Banks (who had no military experience) to the rank of Major General. Banks sucked at being a general, but gave us this wonderful quote, delivered after hearing of Stonewall Jackson’s victory over Union forces at Front Royal.
By God Sir! I will not retreat! We have more to fear from the opinions of our friends than the bayonets of our enemies!
And that brings us back to McCarthy, who should frame this quote and hang it in his office. Kevin McCarthy spent years running to whatever opinions would give him personal influence and power. He did so at the cost of having any core principles he could call his own, but has plenty to fear from the opinions of his friends, who will soon become his ex-friends.
The gang of “destructionists” who are blocking McCarthy don’t want to advance any particular agenda. They just want to pee in everyone’s Cheerios. They, unlike McCarthy, don’t fear the opinions of their friends (perhaps because they have none?). Reps Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert have no fear of politics, because they live in a fantasy land where any power they build only helps their later opportunities for grift. On the other hand, Marjorie Taylor Greene has sided with McCarthy, because he promised her something nobody else would: a committee assignment.
Democrats have remained disciplined and voted as a bloc for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who has represented New York’s 8th district (Brooklyn, including Bed-Stuy, East Flatbush, and Coney Island) since it was redrawn in 2013. Jeffries has garnered more votes than McCarthy in every ballot, but it takes a majority of those voting to win.
Either McCarthy will break the hold of the “destructionists” through voting chicanery (he has proposed that some members vote “present” to lower his threshold), or we’re in for a repeat of the long road taken in 1855. That road will certainly not end with McCarthy holding the gavel. It could end with a Democrat in charge, though a compromise like Banks, an iconoclastic choice breaking the taboos of the left. I don’t know who might emerge. From Republicans, we have Jim Jordan, who supports McCarthy, but when it becomes obvious McCarthy’s ship has sunk, Jordan might step up. Another Trumpist equals more losing.
If I were less interested in having a governable country, I’d break out the popcorn. But I fear this is the logical continuation of Trumpism, a policy of power and ignorance. The “Know-Nothings” are out in full force, and the same result our forbears saw in 1855 are coming to roost again.
The last time that happened, we had open war in the United States. Let’s work to avoid that this time.