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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The House Speaker Race & GOP Failure Theater

by JASmius



House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is going to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives, whether Tea Partiers like it or not.

Or at least he was before he made a most rookie-esque unforced PR error by implying that the House Select Committee on Benghazigate existed for the sole purpose of torpedoing Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.  Which is not to say that Speaker McCarthy isn't still inevitable, but it has lent some drama to what would otherwise have been a perfunctory, pro forma process.

The only man in the Capitol who could have cut McCarthy a break made a point this morning of not throwing him a lifeline:

“I heard from him at 6 a.m. the next morning,” [Trey] Gowdy told the Post on Tuesday when asked about McCarthy. “How many times can somebody apologize? Yes, he’s apologized as many times as a human can apologize. It doesn’t change it. It doesn’t fix it. The only thing you can say is, instead of listening to someone else’s words, why don’t you look at our actions?”…

That question is so rhetorical I'm not going to bother to elaborate upon it, other than to illustrate the magnitude of McCarthy's idiocy.

According to the Post, Gowdy trailed off while discussing forgiveness:

“Kevin is a friend, which makes the disappointment, frankly, even more bitter. If faith tells you to forgive somebody…” Gowdy trails off. “It’s tough,” he says after a moment. “People should go by what we’ve done. How many people have we interviewed? How many of those people have been named Clinton?”

None of which matters anymore, to the degree it ever did, thanks to McCarthy.

Gowdy told the Post that he has spoken to some of the Democrats who voted to form the Benghazi committee “because what Kevin said put them in an incredibly bad position.”

From which the only path to redemption is piling on the opportunity McCarthy foolishly provided to them.

With no absolution from the Tea Party rock star, things become exceedingly complicated for the House Majority Leader:

Democrats are expected to back their own choice, probably Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, meaning a Republican would need 218 GOP votes to win. Assuming the Freedom Caucus sticks together and opposes Mr. McCarthy, it could force a deadlock. If he didn’t win the majority of members voting for a speaker, the voting would be repeated. That would be a painful rebuke to him, though he has expressed confidence in his ability to win…

For the Freedom Caucus to take a formal position in the speaker race and endorse a particular candidate, under its own rules, 80% of its members would have to agree. So far, it appears unlikely Mr. McCarthy could reach that level of support. Some members say they are getting calls from constituents urging a vote against Mr. McCarthy, and others express more favorable views about Mr. Webster.

“If 80% of HFC support McCarthy, then the group probably should be disbanded,” Representative Justin Amash (R-MI3) tweeted this week. “I’m not worried about that happening.”

That may be true, Congressman Amash, and your caucus would seem to have McCarthy by the balls.  But you also don't have anywhere near the votes to put either the belatedly ambitious Jason Chaffetz or the ridiculous Daniel Webster over the top, either.  And that means....a stalemate.  Not one that could actually make Nancy Pelosi Speaker again (though if it came down to a choice between that and putting another GOP establishmentarian in the Big Chair, my evaporating money would be on Tea Partiers helping elevate Crazy Nancy), but one that could increasingly humiliate, discredit, and cripple House Republicans as a governing majority and leave them looking so pathetic that a Democrat return to power in 2016 would look comparatively good to much of the American voting public.  Would Tea Partiers risk such an outcome just to stick it to the "establishment"?  Of course they would.  Being on the outside impotently bitching and moaning is their element, what turns them on, their preferred mode of operation, as opposed to the "dirty," "impure" process of compromise, give and take, that is the stuff of governing majorities - as, remember, the Founding Fathers intended.

Unless....they were given some plumb concessions by McCarthy and the House GOP leadership, such as seats on the Steering Committee, which determines the make-up of other House committees, to make sure that conservatives have some influence over the workings of the House.  A "backroom deal," in other words, precisely the kind of "log-rolling" that Tea Partiers detest.

But it's either that or House Democrats provide the votes to hand Kevin McCarthy the Big Gavel instead, indebting him to them and escalating the GOP Civil War even more than it is already.  Which is what will happen if TPers' stubborn purity fetish wins the day.

Either way, my Tea Party friends, get ready for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy - the easy way or the hard way.

Your choice.

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