It was quite a sight to see President Kevin McCarthy smiling in the House chamber as his Republican colleagues humiliated him as he repeatedly failed to garner enough votes to be elected speaker.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, after days of negotiations and 15 rounds of voting, McCarthy finally won the speech, but he left behind his respect and power. In the end, the Americans lost because the dysfunction of the House is likely to drag on for the next two years.
Part of the disturbing race to the bottom is his political disenchantment for an out-of-control Republican Party that has great power and attention to its raison d’être.
Voters who want a functioning democracy should not continue to enable this strain of Republican nihilism. Beyond McCarthy’s ouster, the primary task of electing a speaker is probably a small preview of the circus to come in the 118th Congress.
The destruction of the Old Party has been years in the making, moving from the bumbling and unqualified Tea Party Sarah Palin to showboaters like Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert.
Donald Trump helped speed this up ugly process. Instead of standing up to him, the GOP has joined an unprincipled, dysfunctional crowd that remains a threat to democracy. The speaker chaos — led by Trump loyalists — is just the latest chapter.
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In 2020, the Republican Party announced that it would have no new platform. Instead, the entire GOP has been swayed by Trump, a narcissistic self-promoting reality TV host who once stood against much of what Republicans stand for.
Tough on defense? Trump is said to have faked an injury to avoid the Vietnam War. Fiscal conservative? In addition to his business failures, Trump raised the national debt to one of the highest levels recorded by any president.
Family values? The twice-divorced Trump paid off a porn star and Playboy model, and bragged about groping women. Abortion? Trump once said he was “very anti-choice.”
How discombobulated is the Republican Party? Trump, the standard bearer of the GOP, was a registered Democrat from New York City who once gave to Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the Clinton Foundation.
Long before Trump, the GOP was a party that excelled at slogans but struggled to govern. Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” led to a prompt government shutdown. George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” came into play as he launched America into its longest war.
Then came Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” leading to four years of chaos and incompetence, two impeachments, a failed response to the pandemic, and broken relations with allies. Trump hatred, anti-Semitism, and racial animism stoked – and provoked a deadly coup attempt.
Even after more than 30,000 documented lies and ongoing state and federal investigations, Trump remains the Republican frontrunner in 2024.
Through that, McCarthy stood out. After the uprising, McCarthy blasted Trump and decided to urge him to resign. But weeks later, McCarthy encouraged Trump at Mar-a-Lago.
McCarthy sold his soul to become a speaker — a job that has long been popular. McCarthy may have had a chance as far back as 2015, when he admitted on Fox News that the Benghazi hearings were political theater to hurt Hillary Clinton before her presidential run.
This time around, McCarthy arrogantly claimed to have earned the top job and moved into the speaker’s office before the votes were cast. But the would-be speaker candidate interrupted Politics 101 when he forgot how to count votes.
Even lawmakers in Harrisburg, where the political divide is worse, were able to agree on a House speaker on the first day. A feat that underscores McCarthy’s utter incompetence.
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It’s hard to imagine how Republicans in a House divided on real issues that affect taxpayers, let alone a national crisis, will govern. Imagine if they were in charge on January 6, 2021. The New York Post even urged the GOP to stop the madness and “Grow up!”
One problem is a dangerous faction of House Republicans who don’t like or trust McCarthy because he isn’t very big. The other problem is the empty vessel of McCarthy who has further embarrassed himself by remaining silent while George Santos slinks into the US Capitol under a cloud of investigations after lying about almost everything on his resume.
Santos is the latest poster boy for Republican charlatans parading as public servants.
Even worse, the GOP is overwhelmingly right-wing with no interest in governing. They include tin horns like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and bomb throwers in the Freedom Caucus, which is made up of election deniers, insurgents, and QAnon conspiracy theorists.
Rep. Scott Perry of York — who sought a pardon after conspiring to cancel the 2020 presidential election — is chairing the Freedom Caucus and helped lead the McCarthy blockade. Perry, who pushed another baseless conspiracy, voted with 146 other Republicans to block Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. They stay the cancer in the Capitol.
In normal times, Perry and others in the sedition caucus would have resigned in disgrace, been abandoned by party leaders, or disqualified from office via the 14th Amendment. Instead, the country must be embarrassed as Perry and other GOP figures try to burn down the House.