The United States House of Reprehensibles

I kept warning that voters giving Congressional power to these Republicans would be insane.

Kevin McCarthy is a reprehensible character, totally self-serving and dishonest. But that’s not why he’s failing to get elected speaker. It’s actually because he’s not reprehensible enough.

Those Republicans refusing to support him for speaker are irresponsible bomb-throwers. They see their mission as blowing things up. One even justified his vote against McCarthy because McCarthy wouldn’t be sure to force a government shutdown. He’s just not extreme enough for them.

Not Trumpy enough, even though McCarthy had disgraced himself kissing Trump’s butt after initially condemning his role in January 6. And then he tried to sabotage the January 6 investigation, even defying a subpoena by the very institution he “serves” in. Yet the extremists still won’t forgive his initial condemnation of Trump. Even though Trump himself did, endorsing McCarthy for speaker. Jim Jordan, another reprehensible, also backs McCarthy, yet the rebels nevertheless voted for Jordan against McCarthy.

McCarthy had overwhelmingly won the GOP caucus vote, re-electing him as their leader, and speaker nominee. Ordinarily all party members vote to make their leader speaker. McCarthy’s situation is virtually unprecedented.

There are 222 House Republicans, and the needed majority is 218, leaving McCarthy only four votes to spare. And he’s twenty short. Previously it was thought Republicans could resolve the problem by changing the rules, to elect the speaker by a plurality, not requiring a majority. However, with McCarthy 20 votes down, that would elect the Democrat, Hakeem Jeffries.

The House of Representatives cannot function until it elects a speaker. Can’t even swear in members. This is no joke. Some months hence a Congressional vote will be required to raise the debt ceiling. Otherwise America will default on its financial obligations, with ghastly global economic consequences. That vote was always going to be tough with nihilist Republicans in control of the House. But absent a speaker, there can be no vote at all.

McCarthy has long relentlessly thirsted for the speakership. (A previous bid was derailed by his gaffe of publicly saying Republicans’ Benghazi hearings were just a ploy to smear Hillary Clinton.) Now his prize seems tantalizingly close, and he won’t easily give it up. But his actually winning it becomes increasingly unlikely; he’s already offered his nemeses maximal concessions while gaining nothing, and has meantime embittered them even more against him. I don’t feel sorry for that creep.

The question becomes: can anyone else (Steve Scalise?) achieve the requisite near-unanimity among House Republicans?

This is not about principle. Those Republicans (most from the so-called “Freedom Caucus”) torturing McCarthy are not interested in policy issues, governance, or tackling America’s problems. Indeed, they are aimed at doing the very opposite: on the warpath against governance itself. While also focused on trying to score political points against the Biden administration, so they can win future elections — and more power to obstruct and blow things up.

While wearing their “Make America Great Again” hats.

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