Kevin McCarthy doesn’t matter.
Ideas, principles, the country – they matter. In a nation of more than 300 million people, with a history of almost 250 years, who sits in what chair at what time isn’t necessarily that big a deal. And who the Republican serving as the next speaker of the House of Representatives is is, likewise, not that big a deal.
So if it’s not Kevin McCarthy, fine.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against Kevin McCarthy. But then, I don’t really have anything for him, either. He’s a cypher. A vanilla blob with a nice smile and a good haircut who has stood in line for a long time and believes that now it’s his turn.
And that’s the problem. Entitlement is bad wherever you find it – in the welfare line, or in the halls of power. In the real world, if you want something, you have to earn it. And I can’t particularly think of anything Kevin McCarthy has done to earn the speakership.
And I’m a conservative loudmouth who makes his living talking about politics on the radio. I’m not that bright, and I don’t have inside connections, but if Kevin McCarthy hasn’t somehow broken through to my pea brain, there’s no way in hell he’s made a connection with Joe and Betty America who have actual jobs and can’t waste time following politicians and their reindeer games.
I can’t think of any philosophy, principle, cause or crusade that Kevin McCarthy has gotten in front of and led – except the campaign to make himself speaker. He seems intent on getting things done for himself, but I don’t see that same passion when it comes to getting things done for us – us Republicans or us Americans.
Somehow, somewhere our cause has to be bigger than Nancy Pelosi is a pain in the ass or Joe Biden is a doddering fool. There should be a clear, unwavering affirmative statement of what we believe and what we will strive for all day, every day. And it’s got to be a little more substantive than the red-meat throwaway lines of a Fox News soundbite.
Newt Gingrich, maybe the last good Republican speaker – with apologies to Hastert – held up a torch of liberty and said, “Follow me.” Not so with Kevin McCarthy.
Which gets to this balloting stuff.
First of all, any student of American and Republican history can tell you that multiple ballots sometimes lead the way to better outcomes. In 1860, on the first ballot at its national convention, the Republican Party almost nominated William Seward president of the United States. Sure, Seward was a great man, but he was no Abraham Lincoln – who ended up the candidate and the president because some renegades didn’t go along with who the party bosses wanted.
Second of all, if you’re the first speaker candidate in a hundred years to lose the first – second and third – ballots, maybe the takeaway is that you don’t have the support or leadership ability to be speaker. Maybe corralling the necessary support of your caucus is something of an audition of your organizational ability and power. You’re applying for a job that you’re demonstrating you can’t do.
And maybe the congresspeople clambering angrily in support of Kevin McCarthy are showing us some of their true nature as well. It seems like Kevin McCarthy has the best supporters that committee assignments can buy. Everybody shouting about how we have to have him seems to have a direct personal benefit arising from a McCarthy speakership.
That kind of makes you wonder who they’re working for.
And I think it’s time the Republican Party make it clear again that it is working for the country and the constitutional principles and American values that made it great. And if that manifests itself as a dozen or so hillbilly congressmen throwing a wrench in the works, well, that’s how democracy works. The people are sovereign. They give some of their power to their House representative. Those House representatives give some of their power to House leadership. That’s how America works.
And if Kevin McCarthy can’t get a majority of House members to support his speakership, then he doesn’t get to be speaker. It turns out 90% isn’t enough – ask Hakim Jeffries.
So keep holding the votes, ballot after ballot after ballot. Kevin McCarthy will either get the votes he needs or he won’t. And the folks with the good committee assignments will either continue to stand with him or they won’t.
But eventually, today or in a couple of weeks, there will be a new speaker.
And it doesn’t really matter to me what that person’s name is.