When the segregated schools of my childhood became the more integrated schools of junior and senior high school, there was quite a fuss, as one might imagine. One of the more benign issues that surfaced was the names of the students. In elementary school, pretty much all the teachers knew pretty much knew all the students, so there wasn’t a problem.
But in junior high (what is called middle school today), there was an influx of black teachers who had previously taught at the segregated schools and were now charged with teaching a whole bunch of white kids they’d never laid eyes on. One of mine was Mrs. Boswell, and the roll she insisted on calling at the beginning of class was close to painful.
She had no way of knowing that Melisssa was Missy, that Rebecca was Becca, or that Russum was Rusty. When Mrs. Boswell came to my name on her roster, I knew she would call out my hated first name.
“Kevin McCarthy!” It was worse than I thought. She had mangled my first name, which I did not go by, as well as my last name, which I did. I tried to explain patiently that my last name was McCartney, that my first name was Kelvin which didn’t really matter because I went by my middle name of Craig. Ultimately, she caught on, and I thank her to this day for teaching me, if nothing else, that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
At that time, there was a rather famous Kevin McCarthy, an actor most widely known for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (“They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”), but who I had been watching in a short-lived television series called The Survivors, in which he played the husband of the ever glamorous Lana Turner. Needless to say, she was the reason I watched the show.
Sadly, his name, if not his body, has been snatched by another Kevin McCarthy, who has been under the glare of the media’s spotlight this week, and it has been somewhat less than becoming. After the debacle of the 15 ballots it took to raise him to the role of Speaker of the House, a fractious election unseen in American history since before the Civil War, McCarthy has been viewed as something of a “weak sister” (if it is still acceptable to use that term), drawing criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Compared to his predecessor, the indefatigable Nancy Pelosi, he looks like the Pillsbury doughboy in a business suit.
With pressure mounting, McCarthy announced this week that he is “directing our house committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” Oh, my, said almost no one. A politically fraught process that seems unlikely to produce any desired result is not exactly the course Republicans should pursue, but you do you.
A more immediate threat may play out in the coming days, this one coming from the ever-quarrelsome representative Matt Gaetz. His threats to McCarthy amped up when McCarthy deflected that Gaetz’s real complaint is about the ethics issue which has shadowed him for some time. In an MSNBC interview (of all places), Gaetz let it all hang out, as we used to say. He responded by saying, “That is an abject lie from a sad and pathetic man who lies to hold onto power. He lied to get power in January when he made the agreement [to become speaker], and he’s lying now . . . Eventually, the lying has to come to an end, and the votes are going to start on a motion to vacate [McCarthy’s speakership].”
Now, I’m no fan of Matt Gaetz. In fact, he reminds me so much of a young Jack Nicholson that I fully expect him to announce himself by shouting, “Here’s Matty!” But what he said about McCarthy is unfiltered, unflinching and full-throated. I have yet to see McCarthy speak that way, and he’s the one who is supposedly in power.
So while the machinations of some Republicans in the house are likely to be a political nuisance and general inconvenience when it comes to impeaching President Biden, the real question is whether Gaetz or anyone else in his group will push to remove McCarthy. That is much more likely than anything Uncle Joe has to worry about. Being removed by one’s party is a real threat. Just ask Ken Paxton. The original Kevin McCarthy was one of the survivors of that television series The Survivors, along with Miss Turner and other co-stars like George Hamilton and Jan-Michael Vincent. Whether this new McCarthy will do the same remains to be seen.