The fall of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy today demonstrated again that the one sin that cannot be forgiven in the modern Republican Party is being seen as failing to fight the Democratic agenda by any means necessary.
Of all the accusations that could be leveled against McCarthy, the notion that he was insufficiently committed to battling Democrats would not seem high on the list. As the GOP minority leader in the previous Congress, McCarthy voted to reject the 2020 election results in two key states and tried to impede the House committee that investigated the January 6 insurrection. Then, as speaker this year, he backed the GOP vote last summer to censure Democratic Representative Adam Schiff over his role in investigating former President Donald Trump while Democrats held the majority; empowered hard-line Republican conservatives to undertake sweeping investigations of President Joe Biden’s administration as well as his son Hunter; and even launched, on his own authority, an impeachment inquiry into the president without any hard evidence of wrongdoing.
Yet on two occasions this year, McCarthy refused to risk chaos in the domestic and global economy, choosing instead to accept bipartisan deals with Democrats, first to avoid default on the federal debt and then to keep the federal government open when it faced a possible shutdown last weekend. And that was simply too much collaboration for the eight hard-line conservative Republicans who voted to remove him today, making him the first speaker ever forced out by a motion to vacate the position.
The proximate cause of McCarthy’s fall was his decision, during his agonizing 15-ballot ascent to the speakership in January, to accept a change in House rules that allowed a single member to file a motion to remove him. That let Representative Matt Gaetz trigger the process that doomed McCarthy, even though the majority of the GOP conference voted to maintain him as their leader. [Continue reading…]