The arguments against letting Kevin McCarthy waltz into a two-year term as House speaker, from a conservative’s perspective: he’s unaccountable, he’s made no promise to pursue an authentically conservative agenda, he’s refused to address criticisms of his shortcomings from the right and he still views any challenge by the right wing of the party to hold him accountable on these measures an affront to … well, something.
The arguments for letting Kevin McCarthy waltz into a two-year term as House speaker, conservatives are being told: Democrats are laughing at us.
That’s basically it. There’s the usual talk of how the 20 Republicans voting against McCarthy and denying him the 218 votes he needs to take the speaker’s gavel is somehow holding the party “hostage;” GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas, ever willing to disappoint those who once saw him as a rising star, has likened those voting against McCarthy to “terrorists.”
Actual terrorists couldn’t be reached for comment, as they were too busy plotting death to America and her allies, but one can safely assume they aren’t throwing in their lot with Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert.
Aside from this semi-substantive argument, that’s basically it — that and the fact the Democrats are laughing at us. For instance, we’re supposed to feel shame and sorrow that “schadenfreude” is trending on Twitter as the left enjoys every moment of this:
— Alby the Owl Lady אריאלה 🇮🇱🇺🇦 (@albyselkie) January 4, 2023
Right. Nor is this schadenfreude. It’s the simple truth. https://t.co/xScGJX898E
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) January 3, 2023
No, your eyes do not deceive you. Democrat Hakeem Jeffries has more house support than Kevin McCarthy. He’d need six republicans to step over and vote for him (no chance), but for now, let’s just take in the schadenfreude. @GOP @RepJeffries @GOPLeader #Speakerofthehousevote pic.twitter.com/4iVY30euGh
— David Phillips (@BrotherJulius83) January 6, 2023
I’m not quite sure what there is to celebrate for Democrats — and neither was Tucker Carlson in his Thursday night monologue on Fox News, after McCarthy lost his 11th vote to take the gavel.
“If you want to be the guy who’s second in line from the presidency in America, you’ve got to work for it,” Carlson said. “And Kevin McCarthy certainly has worked for it this week, whatever you think of him. You get the feeling McCarthy would crawl naked through a sewer to get this gig. And that’s not necessarily an insult, by the way. It’s what it takes, obviously. Maybe it’s what it should take.”
Instead, Carlson said, “this is what democracy looks like when you get up close.”
“I want one thing. You want another thing. We schedule a vote to see who gets it, or in this case, 11 votes,” he said. “How is that a disaster? Well, it’s not a disaster. It’s how the system is supposed to work. But don’t tell the moron community that. They’re too overwrought to hear you.”
By the “moron community,” of course, what he meant is the media — and not just from the liberal side.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “An epic fail and stunning humiliation for Kevin McCarthy, who took the knee for Donald Trump, then gave away the store to the cuckoo fringe of his party.”
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace: “You couldn’t construct a narrative that combines the elements of extremism, election denialism and incompetence more perfectly than the last 12 hours on the Republican side in the House.”
“They look petty. I mean, they’re putting on a show. I’ll call it political ploy,” said James Carville, Democratic campaign consultant.
But there were also conservative voices.
Ben Domenech, formerly of The Federalist and currently of The Spectator: “The way that they’ve gone about trying to achieve these demands has resulted in essentially this terrorist standoff between them and the overwhelming majority of people in their conference.”
Ryan Zinke, former secretary of the Interior under Donald Trump” “It’s embarrassing. And now, there’s a lot of hard feelings on both sides. Again, you have 90 percent of the caucus. Ninety percent of the caucus standing firmly behind Kevin McCarthy.”
And there’s a reason why you have conservative-lite establishment voices like Dan Crenshaw pretending mock shame over this: “Kevin McCarthy is the least conservative speaker he is likely to get ever. And they all think that,” Carlson said.
The problem is that McCarthy hasn’t just underwhelmed with his conservative bona fides, Carlson said. He also underperformed at the ballot box.
“The one thing that every politician has in common, every one of them, is every one of them wants to win elections. That’s the goal. And honestly, by that measure, Kevin McCarthy has underwhelmed,” Carlson said.
“The red wave that we were all promised, remember that? It didn’t materialize last fall. The midterms were a crushing disappointment. Now, that is not all Kevin McCarthy’s fault,” he continued. “But Kevin McCarthy was the head Republican in the House when that happened. That debacle happened and he shares responsibility for it. That’s true. But you’d never know that from listening to Republican leaders in Washington. They don’t talk about it.”
He noted that that Republicans have the same Senate leader, the same Republican National Committee leader and, if the establishment plays its cards right, the same House leader they did before the election.
“How does that work exactly?” Carlson said. “If I’m a valet parker and I crash your car, you don’t give me another car to park until I take a driving lesson, right? Oh ho, but not in Washington. I have another car, a more expensive one this time.”
Well, consider this a driving lesson. Sure, the Democrats may love their “schadenfreude” tweets now. In six months, it’ll all be forgotten. Maybe three or four days of the legislative calendar will have been squandered, nothing more.
The end result will either be 1) Kevin McCarthy agreeing to be more accountable to his party’s conservatives and focused on delivering a conservative agenda, or 2) a compromise candidate like Steve Scalise or Jim Jordan who’s not an establishment lapdog. Either way, conservatives two years to sit at home and focus on Democratic, schadenfreude while the same lefties who can’t think beyond what’s happening right this very moment will be rage-tweeting about budget impasses and investigations spurred on by an energetic Republican opposition in the House.
That’s what democracy looks like. And, in this case, it’s beautiful. Don’t be ashamed of it, conservatives.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.