Kevin McCarthy: Profile In Cowardice

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There’s an old joke which can be adapted for many different occasions. So, here’s my version which I’m tailoring for our current political situation.

What’s the difference between a Democratic member of Congress and a Republican member?

While both would sell you their grandmothers, the Republican would even guarantee delivery.

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Kevin McCarthy's Dream Of Becoming House Speaker

In the coming weeks, Republican House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, is anxiously hoping to become the next House Speaker. In the new Congress, the Republicans will have a tiny majority, so McCarthy may have to sell off a lot more than his grandmother to fulfill his dream of becoming House Speaker.

But besides having to yield major concessions to the Marjorie Taylor Greens, the Lauren Boeberts, the Matt Gaetzes, the Paul Gosars and other crazies, he will have to meet the demands of numerous other far rightwing fellow Republicans. Regretfully, McCarthy has only a very limited number of grandmothers to give away.

But McCarthy is apparently not too tightly bound by any deep moral scruples. He dispelled any doubts about that after his pathetic journey to Mar-a-Lago a week after President Donald Trump refused to call off his hordes who had almost succeeded in slaughtering McCarthy and his Congressional colleagues.

Has the man no shame? Knowing that his prospective speakership was on the line, McCarthy pathetically kissed the ring, and then Trump, very grudgingly, let McCarthy off the hook.

With that degrading gesture, McCarthy revealed his true identity. He would grovel before the devil himself, if that would enable him to fulfill his great political dream. It surely provides a window to his soul.

And so, we may ask whether even all of McCarthy’s best efforts will be enough to secure him the House Speakership. Is he willing to pay any price?

Yes, he will! But it may not be the price that most of us are expecting.

We know that the overwhelming majority of House Republicans will vote for McCarthy for the speakership. And several more can easily be bought off with committee chairmanships and other perks.

That may leave us with perhaps a dozen or so crazies and super-crazies. And try as he might, McCarthy would never be able to satisfy all of them without alienating the much more moderate Republican rank-and-file members. As they say, “You can’t make everybody happy!”

So, McCarthy will very likely find himself in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.” Even a King Solomon could not come up with a workable solution.

Now I would like to think that I despise McCarthy almost as much as his master in Mar-a-Lago. But I can actually throw him a lifeline. OK, that may be a bit presumptuous, since he himself may have actually had the same idea. And perhaps quite a few political scientists as well.

But before revealing my solution, let’s let the suspense build a bit. Think about it! McCarthy will grow desperate. He’ll know he will lose the vote on January third when the new Congress convenes. Time is running out. What can he do?

He’ll cave. Hat in hand, he’ll go across the aisle to the enemy – the House Democrats. He’ll be ready to deal. And they will be too – albeit at a very substantial price.

He’ll feel liberated. Free at last! Now he’ll know how Martin Luther King felt decades ago.

Who are the Democratic Representatives who would even consider forming a coalition with the Republicans? Obviously, the most rightwing ones. The ones willing to do business with the Republicans. All McCarthy would need would be enough to replace perhaps a dozen or so Republican defectors.

The Democrats will explain that since they have virtually half the votes, they should have several committee chairmanships, perhaps an extension of the January sixth committee, and having McCarthy deny most of the demands of the crazies.

The negotiations will not be easy. They may even drag on for weeks. But ultimately, some deal might be worked out.

Regretfully, what one hand gives, the other may take away. The chances are, the Democrats – and McCarthy – will be much happier with the deal than the most rightwing Republicans. The crazies will become increasingly disruptive. There will be votes of no confidence in Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

And yet, this grand coalition may pass much of the legislation proposed by President Joseph Biden. But McCarthy will be a villain – a traitor to most Republican House members. Trump will surely “primary” him in 2024. Not even another trip to the “Florida White House” will save him. Still, Kevin McCarthy will have attained his dream, if only at a fearsome price.