Steve thinks Kevin McCarthy would be a joke if his weakness as a human being did not jeopardize us all.
In the 1950s, “McCarthyism” drew its name from a Republican Senator who spewed vicious, unsupported allegations of Communist Party affiliations in order to destroy the reputations of innocent people.
History records this as a period of disgraceful vigilantism, ultimately brought down by Edward R. Murrow, and sealed with the words of lawyer Joseph Welch, who confronted Joseph McCarthy on national television: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness… Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
But there is a new McCarthyism in Washington, D.C., and the variant is far more dangerous than the original strain.
In the new McCarthyism, it is the leadership of the Republican party that is on a crusade, spewing vicious, unsupported allegations that are designed to aid and abet the very people who are undermining our government.
And one of the most senior elected officials in the United States is leading the charge, even as it is shockingly obvious that he knows full well that he is lying.
The new McCarthyism takes its name and essential meaning from House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, a man who has broken dangerous new ground in the Republican war on democracy and on truth itself: he appears to be keenly and openly aware of the deceit and inconsistency of his own positions, and yet he sallies forth, untroubled even as he flip-flops faster that a fish freshly hooked and reeled into the Chris Craft. It’s one thing to gradually modify positions over the course of a long career. It’s quite another to do so several times a month.
Oh, we get it all right: Kevin McCarthy wants to be Speaker of the House. Right after the insurrection, McCarthy could have easily thrown his weight behind Liz Cheney and Mitch McConnell and helped bring a whole bunch of silent mainstream GOP reps and Senators along with them, breaking Donald Trump’s hold on the party. But no… for McCarthy, personal ambition took precedence, and he saw a better chance of becoming Speaker by courting Trump.
This new strain of McCarthyism was on full display yesterday when the House Minority Leader issued this tweet about the Biden/Putin summit:
“President Biden should have used yesterday’s summit to show that the United States will hold Russia accountable for its long list of transgressions. Instead, he gave Vladimir Putin a pass. We need real leadership that puts the American people first again.”
Kevin McCarthy thinks Biden gave Putin a pass?? He thinks Biden should have held Putin accountable? What planet was Kevin McCarthy living on from 2016 to 2020?
Did Kevin somehow forget the sycophancy suck-fest in Helsinki when Donald Trump not only “gave Putin a pass” on interference in U.S. elections, but actually publicly agreed with Putin, dismissing the position of his own intelligence community?
Here’s the best part of all: CNN quickly pointed out that in 2015, Kevin McCarthy was heard on a recording saying that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” This recording was verified by The Washington Post. Kevin McCarthy actually said out loud that he thought Donald Trump was literally on the take from Putin. That is what he really thinks.
That, folks, is the New McCarthyism. It is simply the latest example of a breathtaking past six months in which Kevin McCarthy has proven himself to be one of the weakest, most easily and thoroughly intimidated, and most cravenly usurped men of his era.
Some men fold in the face of intimidation. When confronted by Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy tucks, pleats, creases, and folds in more ways than an Origami butterfly.
McCarthy is a whole new breed of Hessian soldier in Trump’s war on truth. It’s fair to speculate as to whether Louis Gomert could actually be every bit as stupid as he appears, and we know Mitch McConnell is savvy enough to avoid owning up to the purely political nature of his motives. But Kevin McCarthy reveals that he is fully aware of what is true, and that he is actively and consciously ignoring it.
When someone openly tells you that they know the right thing to do, but they insist on doing the wrong thing, we have entered an entirely new and frightening chapter in our journey toward the dissolution of our democracy.
We got an early glimpse of the new McCarthyism back in the first days of Kevin McCarthy’s entry into the national consciousness.
That was back in 2015, when McCarthy bragged to Sean Hannity about how he wounded Hillary Clinton in the run up to the 2016 election. "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought."
Yes, there was Kevin McCarthy actually admitting on national television that the Republicans had ginned up an official House Investigation of Hillary Clinton for the sole purpose of damaging her candidacy. It takes a special breed of weasel to be so forthcoming about authoring a corrupt political hatchet job. Mitch McConnell would have taken pains to say that such an investigation was justified based on the people’s need to understand the truth and blah blah blah. But Kevin McCarthy insisted – on national television -- that the rationale for the House Benghazi probe was to damage Hillary Clinton politically.
Flash forward to January 6, 2021: Kevin McCarthy was reported to have been on a heated phone call with Donald Trump smack in the middle of the insurrection, demanding that action be taken to protect the Capitol from rioters. At one point, Kevin McCarthy is reported to have yelled into the telephone to the President of the United States, “Who the f—k do you think you are talking to?” Hey, you gotta like a guy who drops an f-bomb on the sitting President. Sure doesn’t sound like the language of an obsequious, sniveling toadie.
Trump, in turn, delivered the single most damning piece of evidence of his own allegiance in the insurrection when he replied, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
In the following days, Kevin McCarthy made perfectly clear exactly what he knew, understood, and believed about the insurrection. Speaking before the House, McCarthy said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump." He went on to say that Trump must “accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-Elect Joe Biden is able to successfully begin his term.” For good measure, McCarthy added “Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There is absolutely no evidence of that. Conservatives should be the first to say so.”
There you have it. Who caused it, who was responsible for it, who was not. McCarthy nailed it. He knew exactly what was going on.
By January 22 – less than a week later – McCarthy was singing a new song. ““I don’t believe he provoked it if you listen to what he said at the rally.” Then McCarthy came to realize that his honest assessment of January 6 had infuriated Trump, and he asked for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago to “talk strategy” about winning the House back in 2022. “Talk strategy” is apparently a well-worn Washington euphemism for genuflecting and kissing the ring.
A photo from the meeting shows the two men standing side by side. McCarthy looks eager to please. Trump appears to be laughing.
When Liz Cheney brazenly broke from Trump loyalists and voted for impeachment, her position as Republican Conference Chairman was immediately challenged. Back in February, McCarthy supported her, helping her retain her third-in-command post in the Republican House minority. But when she continued her increasingly lonely quest, infuriating Trump, McCarthy did what he does best: publicly flip-flopping and urging his House colleagues to dump Cheney.
The key point: Cheney was not saying anything different prior to the first vote and the second vote. The only difference was that Trump made clear Cheney had to go… and Kevin McCarthy knuckled under.
In May, Republicans and Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee agreed on a proposal for a bi-partisan commission modeled off the highly regarded 9/11 Commission to fully investigate the January 6 insurrection.
Kevin McCarthy refused to support the proposed bipartisan commission that had been negotiated and supported by the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, John Katko of New York. McCarthy claimed that he did not support the bipartisan inquiry because it did not include an investigation into “political violence” of the prior summer. Katko – a Republican – countered that there was no limitation on the proposed Commission’s purview, and that investigation of McCarthy’s “political violence” was never precluded.
In fact, the real issue behind McCarthy’s opposition is that he would very likely be subpoenaed to testify about his conversation with Trump on January 6, and – having already reported on the substance of his phone call to numerous colleagues – he would have risked perjury if he did not provide damning first hand evidence about Trump’s state of mind.
Which, of course, would be the end of Kevin McCarthy’s career. Have any doubt? Have you heard from one Mike Pence recently?
And then there is Marjorie Taylor Green.
On Thursday, May 20, Green was interviewed by David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network on a show called “The Water Cooler,” and equated Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mask policy with the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis:
"You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about."
Actually, Representative Green, requiring that masks be worn in the House chamber is not ”exactly” the same as the slaughter of millions of innocent human beings. Right, Kevin McCarthy?
Turns out McCarthy had to think about this one, because he did not say a word about it on Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. Or Monday.
Still thinking about that equivalency, Kevin?
Then, on Tuesday, McCarthy finally concluded that Green’s equivalence was incorrect:
“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling. Americans must stand together to defeat anti-Semitism and any attempt to diminish the history of the Holocaust. Let me be clear: the House Republican Conference condemns this language.”
It took Kevin McCarthy five days to decide that the murder of six million Jews was not really the same as requiring members of the House of Representatives to wear a mask if they are not vaccinated.
And, yes, he called her “Marjorie.” You know, a nice informality… just the way you’d refer to a close friend. A pal.
That’s just how pathetic Kevin McCarthy is: he is afraid to alienate the followers of a QAnon nutjob who worries about Jewish Space lasers.
Here’s the best one of all. On the day of the vote that had resulted in the ouster of Liz Cheney, Kevin McCarthy actually said “"I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election." Those words actually came out of his mouth.
Three weeks later, Donald Trump would address the North Carolina Republican Party and announce that “the 2020 presidential election… was by far the most corrupt election in the history of our country… a third-world election, like we’ve never seen before.”
The amazing thing about Kevin McCarthy is that he never learned what most kids learn on playgrounds by third grade. If you kneel before a bully, they own you. They realize you are one of the few people who are weaker than they are, so you become the go-to bozo they use to prove how tough they are. They keep going back to victimize you. The more they bully you, the more you exhibit weakness, the more they shame you, the more they own you.
Can I take this moment to offer just two syllables to Kevin McCarthy on the subject of loyalty to Donald Trump? Mike Pence. Yeah, you don’t hear too much from Mike Pence these days. He has long since realized that is career is over, and now all he wants is the political equivalent of the witness protection program so the 1/6ers won’t come to finish the job.
That’s what blind loyalty to Donald Trump buys you.
And yet there are men like Kevin McCarthy who can’t see just how blatantly they reveal their own fears and inadequacy. Who cannot see how frightened, weak, and intimidated they look to us all as they kneel before a scumbag like Donald Trump. When we see that a prominent leader in our government would rather sell his soul than surrender his fancy title, we are debased as a nation.
What Donald Trump’s presidency taught us is that our blind faith in the institutions of our government was astonishingly naïve. We used to believe that our brilliant forefathers created a government of laws, and that meant that the checks, balances, and institutions of government would protect us from malevolent actors who would attempt to destroy our democracy.
Now we know the truth: those institutions are only as good as the people we entrust them to.
Right now, in virtually every critical leadership position in the Republican party, we have either malevolent actors or compromised and intimidated weaklings like Kevin McCarthy.
The New McCarthyism is the blind ambition that causes a man to pretend that he sees no evil. It is to have enough power to enable a would-be tyrant, but not enough strength of character to defy him.
Yes, there is a new breed of McCarthyism in the Republican Party. Sorry, Edward R. Murrow, this McCarthyism is worse than the original. It is the use of Congressional leadership positions to overtly sanction actions and speech intended to undermine the government.
Right now, we are acutely vulnerable to this new McCarthyism. We have been emotionally drained to empty by a global pandemic, and all we want to do is meet our friends at a bar for a drink so we can remember what noses and smiles actually look like.
We are happy with Joe Biden, a man who says – and means – all the right things when he describes America the way it is supposed to be.
But the promise of a post-pandemic prosperity and the perception of a political panacea have eroded our resolve. As much as we like Joe Biden, he is wrong about one thing. Joe Biden wants to believe that America is the country that it is supposed to be… where what we have in common is greater than what divides us, where country is bigger than party, and where we accept the will of the people and move on. It is supposed to be a country where we would rather deal with the hard truths and bad news head on, rather than hide from reality, shielded in a bubble created by media tyrants and political losers who coax the weak with the fantasy that what they want to believe is really true.
Out there in the real world, the new McCarthyism is real,
and it is a massive, growing threat that could easily bring about the end of
democracy in America.
"Until this moment, Mr. McCarthy, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
If you would like to be on the Born To Run The Numbers email list notifying you of each new post, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.