[At the time this is scheduled, U.S. CA Rep. Kevin McCarthy has failed three times to secure the needed 218 votes needed to become Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.]
I’m flummoxed. We’ve all heard the clichés intoned by commentators: “S/He will do anything to get power.” Or: “S/He will do anything to keep power.” These pronouncements have in recent times frequently been made in reference to Republican officeholders bowing to claims of election fraud they know are false, but are equally applicable to rationalizations by politicians of both parties who understand the proper course but decline to take it to protect their own political careers.
What puzzles me about these phrases: their inclusion of the word, “power.” The groveling in which U.S. CA Rep. Kevin McCarthy has engaged since the November election to try to appease at least 218 members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Republican Caucus so he can become the Speaker of the House has been so publicly demeaning – to the extent that Mr. McCarthy has reportedly agreed to a rule that would provide any handful within the Republican majority the right to seek his ouster from the Speakership at any time – that it is obvious that he doesn’t really seek power; he won’t have any. He covets the trappings of power that would attend having his name etched into some marble Capitol wall under those of recent House Speakers such as Sam Rayburn, Tip O’Neill, Newt Gingrich, and Nancy Pelosi. No matter what you think of these past Speakers’ respective policy preferences, each was knowledgeable, savvy, and tough.
If – imagine this 😉 – I was a member of the House Republican Caucus, I’d be a hard No on Mr. McCarthy (unless the only alternative was U.S. OH Rep. Jim Jordan, whom I consider at this point to arguably present a greater danger to American democracy than former President Donald Trump). My principal objection to Mr. McCarthy would not be among those raised by House Republicans – a number of whom seek an American Apartheid and a few of whom, if reports are accurate, may have lent support to activities surrounding the insurrection on January 6, 2021 — but because he doesn’t have the fortitude. For months, he should have been telling the recalcitrant members of his caucus to either vote for him, or go … (you fill in the rest), and then walked away.
The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is third in line to the presidency of the United States. While some negotiation among any group of ambitious, strong-minded individuals is to be expected, Mr. McCarthy hasn’t grasped that attaining the Speakership by bootlicking would reduce his post to a sham. He apparently lacks the understanding of how to acquire and wield real power, and on this ground alone is unworthy of the position he seeks. Put aside all of the terribly vital issues upon which we generally focus, including the ongoing existential threats of our democracy; put aside the Democrats’ partisan chortling, and any unseemly guilty satisfaction some undoubtedly feel at the Republicans’ disarray; consider only this: If as a result of a devastating terror attack or other tragedy, Mr. McCarthy became President of the United States, do you think Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin would take him seriously? In their places, would you?