Do we really need McCarthy as Speaker?
In previous commentaries, I have expressed my hope that House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy would NOT become Speaker in January. That does lessen my desire to have Republicans win the house by a large number. I am also realistic enough to understand that I am not likely to get my wish. But there is a case to be made to select another person.
My first concern is that McCarthy is not a very formidable and persuasive individual. He is obviously good at the insider game – keeping the majority of the Republican caucus on his side. He is not, however, an effective public spokesman. He is mostly on the defensive – lacking the talent to go on the offensive without being offensive. His arguments are not well crafted. In short, he is a poor salesman. It is that charisma thing.
He is also a poor political strategist. Arguably his greatest blunder – in my judgment – was not putting Republicans on Speaker Pelosi’s Select Committee. He apparently believed that refusing to have “the other side” represented would undermine the credibility of the committee. It did to some measure – but not as much as it should have.
The Committee operated as a kangaroo court in the arena of public opinion – but even a one-sided operation can be persuasive. Image if there had been tough questioning of witnesses – and even other witnesses.
Even though Pelosi acted badly in refusing two Committee members initially chosen by McCarthy, there were any number of Republican congressmen who could have filled in the role. It would have also precluded Pelosi’s appointing two apostate Republicans. Pelosi would have been denied her dubious claim of bipartisanship. Both Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Adam Kinzinger would have slipped out of the political arena with little notice.
And then there is the issue of Cheney, herself. What would have happened if McCarthy had not booted Cheney out of her leadership position — even in view of her vote to impeach President Trump. She had been a very consistent conservative vote – and would likely have continued in that manner.
McCarthy can be said to have created the monster Cheney had become to the Republican Party. Much of what we have seen is a woman scorned.
Those two lapses in political judgment, alone, have caused enormous damage to the GOP brand by handing political fodder to the Democrats.
McCarthy is given to making foolish or damaging statements. His harsh criticism of Trump at the time of the Capitol Hill riot followed by a mea culpa visit to Mar-a-Lago made him look weak and sleazy.
McCarthy recently made a statement that sounded like he would cut off support to Ukraine when in charge of the House. That was both wrong and stupid. He could have said nothing at this time. It was an unearned error.
Republicans controlling the House will be a good thing for America, but even better if the House Speaker was a more dynamic and intelligent individual. It is a lost opportunity, I fear.
So, there ‘tis.