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Denying Kevin McCarthy the Speaker's Chair Makes Sense
There is an extraordinary effort from some parts of the right to defend Kevin McCarthy as a conservative choice for Speaker. It is not surprising that some of the loudest work for those headquartered in and around McCarthy’s district.
It is actually a very good idea for House Republicans to scuttle McCarthy’s effort to become Speaker.
First and foremost, the House of Representatives has already had a Speaker from California. Going from Pelosi to McCarthy may be going from Democrat to Republican, but it is also going from California’s 12th congressional district to California’s 23rd congressional district.
A nation that ping-ponged between Clintons and Bushes for so long should not have to suffer a ping-pong from California to California.
Second, stopping McCarthy is right on principle. The GOP just suffered a humiliation at the ballot box, and the voters want change. Tossing McCarthy after the House GOP’s lackluster performance is a signal to the voters the House GOP rejects the status quo ante in favor of something new.
Third, rejecting McCarthy would be fantastically quintessential American disruption. For the last two years, all of K Street, the lobbyists, the donors, the ranking Republican members who’ll be chairmen of committees, etc. have all expected McCarthy. They’ve stacked the deck, made the hires, and prepared the talking points for a McCarthy Speakership. Ending it would be profoundly disruptive in a good way, forcing rapid recalibrations that shake up a system badly in need of shaking up.
Fourth, it is true that rejecting McCarthy might actually force a more moderate caretaker Speaker. While I’d prefer a conservative, McCarthy is a transactional, rudderless congressman whose only principle is ladder climbing. Better a weak caretaking moderate than a principle-less ladder climber who will find his very useful conservatives suddenly expendable the moment he gets more members in another election.
Fifth, a compromise candidate would require a weaker Speaker and stronger congressmen. Right now, most major legislation is done top-down. The Speaker’s team drafts it and imposes it on the congressmen. Committees are used for show trials. Congressmen are used as window dressing on Fox and MSNBC.
Booting McCarthy for a caretaker would make the Majority and Minority Leaders have to deal with their members while the Speaker deals with just the House. It’d make the committees operate, encourage actual legislation, and end the top-down approach that has led to massive growth in government with zero reform. It would force congressmen to have to actually work at drafting legislation and getting votes.
Sixth, the House of Representatives is broken. McCarthy would keep it broken and use his powers to force through matters. That would perpetuate funding government by continuing resolution instead of appropriations processes. Fixing the House would both slow it down and return it to its roots. This would be good for Americans, not just one party or the other.
There are really serious problems on the horizon — financial problems that will become national security problems. A top-down Speaker like McCarthy cannot find the necessary institutional support to force the House to rise to meet those problems. Profound disruption in the process would do that.
Yes, it is true; moderates in the House might work to find a compromise moderate if it is not McCarthy. But that disruptive act would still be better than a status quo funded by K Street lobbyists who have long blocked substantive reforms in the House of Representatives.
Republicans should embrace the chaos of the process, remove the top rung from Kevin McCarthy’s ladder, and let the process unfold to reveal a presently unknown Speaker.
The entire country would benefit from this. Of course, that is precisely why I expect it will not happen. Republicans are rarely very good at doing what is best for the Republican Party, let alone the country.
One More Thing
The Biden Administration is considering Stacey Abrams for the Federal Communications Commission. If you want to stop her from having the power to force censorship on American television and radio, you need Herschel Walker to win in Georgia. If Walker wins, the Senate committees remain split evenly between the GOP and Democrats, which gives the GOP a chance to stop her nomination.