Robert Reich: Kevin McCarthy Is Toast – OpEd


The normally rational Times columnist Gail Collins, writing Sunday about Speaker Kevin McCarthy: “Now if he gets tossed out as House speaker by the right wing, he’ll go down in history as the guy who sacrificed his career for the common good.”

Well, he was just tossed out. But Kevin McCarthy has as much to do with the common good as the lizard my cat just dragged into the house. (The lizard is still alive. I tossed him out of the House.)

It makes me sick to see McCarthy lauded as some sort of hero. He didn’t sacrifice his career for the wellbeing of America. He just didn’t want to be tagged as the person most responsible for shutting the government down, as was one of his predecessors named Newt. And he took a calculated gamble that he’d be able to keep his speakership (he may still, but I’ll get to that in a moment.)

As Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a moderate Democrat from Virginia, put it: “Kevin McCarthy is among the most unprincipled, untrustworthy people I ever have encountered in the entirely of my life, and I think he does damage to this institution and our democracy.”

Recall that McCarthy was willing to do anything — anything — to become Speaker, including changing the rules on who can propose a resolution to remove a speaker, to allow just one gonzo Republican to do it — like, um, Matt Gaetz. 

McCarthy has even been willing to start an impeachment of Joe Biden, for no reason other than Trump wants it. 

McCarthy has been a Trump lapdog since Trump began raising lapdogs.

In 2016, McCarthy gave his unwavering support to Trump when the rest of the Party establishment had doubts. 

After the “Access Hollywood” tape was leaked and Republicans wondered whether to pull their endorsements, McCarthy fumed: “What the hell are you guys doing? How can you do this and hurt our nominee?” 

Soon, McCarthy and Trump were speaking several times a day. Trump called him “my Kevin.”

After the 2020 election, McCarthy went on Fox News to say, “President Trump won this election. . . . We cannot allow this to happen before our eyes.” (That December, when the Texas attorney general petitioned the Supreme Court to contest the results in four states, McCarthy initially declined to sign an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit, but reversed himself hours after the list of signers went public and Trump got angry; McCarthy cited a “technical glitch.”)

On the night of January 6, 2021, after the insurrection at the Capitol, McCarthy voted against certifying the election. Although he initially blamed Trump for the attack, he voted against Trump’s impeachment. Two weeks later, he made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to kiss Trump’s ring. 

As Adam Kinzinger, the former Republican congressman from Illinois, put it: “Kevin McCarthy is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump again. He was so close to being dead.”

House Democrats were correct to decide not to save McCarthy’s derrier. 

But who will be the next leader of the House? I can’t imagine Republicans will be able to coalesce around anyone else, and I’m sure Democrats won’t help them elect a new Speaker. So I wouldn’t be surprised if McCarthy is eventually re-elected. 

Still, the man deserves no praise. He’s an unprincipled lout. 

What do you think?

This article was published at Robert Reich Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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