Anyone with even a smidgen of self-respect would have done the honorable thing and given up trying so desperately to become Speaker after a couple of rejections, but not Kevin. He had to realize his life’s dream regardless of any demands made on him by the neo-fascist wing of the Republican Party, the self-styled Freedom Caucus. This gaggle of election-denying, authoritarian-craving performance artists have zero interest in policy and are in Congress only to tear down the institution and get themselves on TV courtesy of Carlson, Ingraham and Hannity, Fox News’s stooge triumvirate.
McCarthy’s surrender to the Freedumbers’ outrageous demands was, like Germany’s and Japan’s at the end of World War II, absolute and unconditional. By relinquishing his power and authority to these disrupters, he—and we—can look forward to two years of likely congressional chaos, assuming against the odds that he lasts that long wielding the Speaker’s now Dali-esque gavel. It is the will of this minority that will prevail when McCarthy even hints at doing anything they don’t condone.
But not to worry. Kevin’s history of servile subservience indicates that he won’t come close to crossing the Clown-and-Kook Caucus. It’s nowhere near his nature to take a bold, much less principled, stand regardless of the damage to his rapidly shrinking stature. He is now their shameless tool to do with whatever they want. His only objective is to be Speaker, not to do anything constructive with the office.
Here is a list of mostly destructive concessions and promises McCarthy made to the Freedumbers to win the gavel:
- Any member can call for a motion to vacate (i.e., a no confidence vote) the speaker’s chair. Translated, any member of the House can initiate the process of bringing Kevin down. He will do whatever is necessary to keep the job regardless of the damage this might cause.
- Kevin pledged to allow House votes on key right-wing bills, most of which are less legislation and more performance art for the MAGA folks back home.
- When the infernal debt ceiling bill looms (sometime this summer), efforts to raise it must be paired with spending cuts. Democrat-favored programs would be targeted. If the debt ceiling bill runs into trouble, causing the U.S. to default on its debt payments, say goodbye to the global economy.
- Freedumb Caucus representation on key committees, including the powerful House Rules Committee. Look for the worst of the worst reactionaries from the Gaetz-Boebert-Greene wing of the GOP cult to be appointed to these committees.
- Give members the ability to offer more amendments on the House floor and thus, drag out debate ad infinitum.
- Make it easier to pass tax cuts (yes, Republicans are still in thrall to the often-debunked trickle-down theory) and harder to pass spending bills.
- Restore the rule that allows Congress to reduce the salary of government officials (to be used to threaten or punish Feds [including civil servants] that the Freedumb Caucus doesn’t like).
- Create an investigative committee to probe the “weaponization” of the federal government, whatever that means (probably more “deep state” fantasies). Two of their announced targets: the January 6 Committee and the Justice Department, which means that the investigated will investigate the investigators investigating them!
There are likely a bunch of additional, secret agreements that, like the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, are even more toxic and disruptive than the ones we know about.
These concessions render McCarthy a cipher, the weakest Speaker in the history of the office. That’s fine with Kevin, as long as he can wallow in the glory of being called “Mr. Speaker.”
January 13, 2023