I thought the Republican Speakership race would be a coronation—a swift, uneventful vote…and voíla: Boehner 2.0. I clearly thought wrong. Kevin McCarthy’s decision to drop out of the race was startling but not necessarily surprising, as I will touch on later. Fundamentally, it’s just the latest chapter in the political saga of Republican disunity.
Liberals may look upon the proceeding with a sense of unabashed, unaltered glee—political schadenfreude at its finest. I’ll admit it, it’s sort of funny that Republicans are engaging in this civil war. But we shouldn’t be happy at all.
While the Bakersfield Boy’s (Kevin McCarthy’s) comments on Hillary Clinton and Benghazi were certainly damaging, he was still expected to glide to victory. Jason Chaffetz, known Secret Service-hater, was already being considered an also-ran—so what the hell happened? The Freedom Caucus did, well, most likely. While we may never be able to know McCarthy’s exact reasons for leaving, his rhetoric—concerning a divided conference and disunity—provides a pretty good guide.
Over the last week it has become clear to me that our conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader. I have always put this conference ahead of myself. Therefore, I am withdrawing my candidacy for speaker of the House.
Translation: “How did Boehner deal with these people?! No wonder he cried a lot!” (Disclaimer: translation might be totally fictionalized). It seems clear that the proximal cause of this announcement was the Congressional far-right’s decision to back Daniel Webster, well-reputed to not be Kevin McCarthy. And…. another one bites the dust. The same forces that drove Boehner from his office, toppled McCarthy, and that bodes ill for the house—which is why this shit show is not surprising. As my boy Pete King put it: “It is total confusion – a banana republic.”
The Republicans had the imperative, upon election, to demonstrate that they could properly govern. They have bigger problems than that now, they need to learn to govern themselves. Going back to my point about why liberals ought not be happy—these developments are not well and good. The speaker that does rise from the burning embers of the House Republican Caucus will most likely not be as moderate as McCarthy or Boehner were and Mcarthy and Boehner were not even that moderate…dammit!
The retort “but [Democrats] will retake the house, right?” is a function of willful ignorance of our country’s politics. As Matthew Yglesias points out, in an entirely different context, “The odds of a continued Republican congressional majority are overwhelming.” Everyone should be concerned with the outcome of the speakership race due to the political chaos it has created, we have a debt limit crisis coming up as well as a spending fight that keeps getting postponed. The volatility of the political climate in the House and the power wielded by the Freedom Caucus threatens the ability of our legislators to govern. Ultimately, good governance should be the House’s the main focus; sadly, it is not.
Update: Congresspeople are straight up crying because of the stress and chaos.