Political animal Kevin McCarthy is unworthy of House speakership

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Political animal Kevin McCarthy is unworthy of House speakership

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If it is silly to put lipstick on a pig, it is almost indescribably foolish to try a whole makeover to pretend the pig is a peacock. Yet that’s what Republican leader Kevin McCarthy did on Fox News Sunday morning.

McCarthy’s absurd claims to host Maria Bartiromo give yet more evidence that he’s the wrong man to be Speaker of the House next year.

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McCarthy tried to make the farcical assertion that the 2022 elections were a big success for the Republican Party, or at least the Republicans in the House. He said the House GOP had achieved all three of its goals: “to stop the Biden agenda, to win the majority, and to fire Nancy Pelosi.”

Well, they did, just barely and rather weakly, accomplish the latter two goals; but, with such a narrow majority, they will need to prove they actually know how to stop the Biden agenda. Meanwhile, that very narrowness is a sign of abject failure, not success. A significant part of the failure should be laid at McCarthy’s door.

From its base of a 213-222 minority, House Republicans gained between six and nine seats, for a maximum of a 222-213 majority. That may sound like at least a modest success, but it’s really a hugely missed opportunity.

After the 2016 elections, Republicans enjoyed a robust 241-194 majority in the House. Since then, decennial redistricting gave Republicans at least a small additional advantage. In addition, the incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden, suffers from significantly negative ratings, while a large majority of the American public believes the current economy is bad and that the bad economy is the Democrats’ fault. Meanwhile, conservative activists finally found suburbia on their side again because of battles over parental rights and against letting biological males into female locker rooms. On every major policy divide except abortion, the public by majorities or large pluralities sided with the side broadly identified with Republicans.

Yet with all that going for them, Republicans did not even approach sniffing distance of the 241 seats they controlled just six years ago. Assuming Republicans end up with 222 seats, it still would mean they won only nine of the 36 most competitive races. And it’s not as if they barely got edged out in numerous races: They came within two points of winning only six other seats and within four points of winning just seven more than that. Democrats actually came just as close to winning another 15 seats, compared to the 13 Republicans barely lost.

McCarthy also acted as if the Republicans’ loss of two governorships, a host of secretary-of-state races, and several key state legislative chambers had nothing to do with House Republicans. He ignores the evidence that it was largely the behavior of House Republicans, with him at the forefront, that hurt the Republican “brand” so badly that the party was unable to take advantage of all the tail-winds in its favor.

It was House Republicans under McCarthy who cynically embraced the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, so much so that two-thirds of them voted not to accept the results even after the unprecedented mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Then, even after McCarthy himself said publicly that the riot was then-President Trump’s fault, he didn’t have the courage of his convictions. Instead, he traveled to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ring yet again. With the chance effectively to exile Trump for good, McCarthy let Trump back in the game.

All across the country, voters showed what they thought of the lying, Trump-like Republicans. In race after contested race, the “Team Normal” Republicans, meaning those not closely identified with Trump, won easily, while the McCarthy-like Trump acolytes went down to defeat.

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In this and numerous other ways, McCarthy is known for being a political animal rather than a leader of real principle. Ironically, bowing to the politics of the moment proved to be bad politics in the long run.

Forget pigs and peacocks: Republicans should do better than a Trumpy toady.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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