It may be an American thing, or it may be a human thing. Many of us seem to have a natural tendency to root for the underdog. We’re on Team David, not Team Goliath. We want Bonnie and Clyde or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to outsmart law enforcement.
When the hometown team isn’t in the Super Bowl, we’re pulling for the team that hasn’t ever won to beat the defending champion. Some of us spent time hoping Dexter wouldn’t get caught even though he was a serial killer, but at least he was killing the right people. It may be a quality of ours or a look into something dark about us, but that’s just kind of how we are.
To anyone paying attention, the election of a new Speaker of the House wasn’t going to be a slam dunk for Kevin McCarthy. But the strength of the opposition to him is not only intransigent but may be a little bit principled. Saying that out loud gives me pause, considering that this group includes folks like Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert whose principles are generally not aligned with mine.
They don’t think Kevin McCarthy should succeed Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, perhaps because they think he is untrustworthy or they just plain don’t like him. Maybe they’re just spoiling for a fight, or maybe they’re reveling in the attention they’re getting. But I agree with them at least on one thing. Kevin McCarthy should not be Speaker of the House.
We’ve all dealt with spineless people at some time in our lives, haven’t we? Whether it’s in a board room, at the family dinner table, or any other setting, someone displaying that particular characteristic has shown up in our lives, and we clocked that weakness.
In the space of just one month—January 2021—McCarthy revealed practically everything one needs to know about him. There was voluminous reporting of his contentious phone call with Trump while the insurrection was taking place, McCarthy’s calling Trump out for his responsibility in the insurrection on the floor of the House, and various recorded phone calls of McCarthy dissing Trump after the coup failed.
But then Trump called him a “pussy,” which didn’t register as a falsehood on the Pinocchio meter, and McCarthy ran down to Mar-a-Logo to kiss the (cough) ring of Donald Trump.
For someone with a rather humble background, McCarthy strikes me as a poster boy of entitlement. In a meeting with the caucus Tuesday morning before the first vote was taken, he told fellow Republicans, “I earned this job. We earned this majority, and God damn it, we are going to win it today.” (At this writing, he has lost ten ballots.)
Lauren Boebert was completely on point when she responded, “This is bullshit.” Things are really upside down when I’m thinking to myself, “You go, Lauren.”
The Republicans have won a slim majority in the House, and there is no reason to think that McCarthy is the only one who can lead them. In fact, his losing ballots have demonstrated that he can’t possibly lead them, even if he gets the speakership.
The Democrats, for their part, are consistently voting for their leader, Hakeem Jeffries, without defection. It’s Bizarro World, where they are acting like “fall in line” Republicans, while the Republicans are across the aisle acting like, well, Democrats. Well, Democrats back before Nancy Pelosi, that is.
McCarthy seems to be a glutton for punishment for now, but the longer this goes on, it may be that he is on some mission from God. But the question, Ouiser, is which God?
We don’t know how this is going to turn out, and I for one don’t need to know. As a longtime political junkie, I longed for a brokered political convention. Haven’t had one. I’ve hoped for a scandal that would result in the successful expulsion of a President or, lately, a Supreme Court justice. Hasn’t happened.
It just wasn’t on my bingo card that there would be anything other than a ceremonial appointment of the majority party’s nomination to be speaker of the House. And now this. On behalf of political junkies, we’ll take the win.
For some perspective, Glenn Close has been nominated for and lost eight Oscars in her prestigious 40 year career in film acting. Kevin McCarthy has lost the speakership on more ballots than that in just three days. Way to go, Kevin!