I don't feel bad for Kevin McCarthy. The No. 1 Republican in the House made his terrible bed, took a huge dump between the sheets, and now has to sleep in it. That's simply how it is.
But even though I don't feel the slightest drop of empathy for a man who just shivved one of his top lieutenants in the back for essentially saying the same thing he once did, I can appreciate just how truly and monumentally stupid he must feel when he insists that everything is hunky dory and peachy keen and la-la-la-la-la-la-la I can't heeear you just moments after overseeing a veritable coup within his own leadership cohort.
Allow me to set the scene: Here is McCarthy, fresh from a House Republican Conference vote that deposed now-former GOP Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney over her public criticism of former President Donald Trump's role instigating the Jan. 6 insurrection — one carried out expressly on Trump's false insistence that the 2020 election was "stolen" in favor of Joe Biden.
Take it away Kev!
Play that back. "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election. I think that is all over with."
??? My man, what?? Here's Trump, the man for whom McCarthy just went to bat when he ousted Cheney this morning, doing just that on his blog Monday (emphasis mine):
The major Michigan Election Fraud case has just filed a bombshell pleading claiming votes were intentionally switched from President Trump to Joe Biden. The number of votes is MASSIVE and determinative. This will prove true in numerous other states. All Republicans must UNIFY and not let this happen. If a thief robs a jewelry store of all of its diamonds (the 2020 presidential election), the diamonds must be returned. The Fake News media refuses to cover the greatest election fraud in the history of our country. They have lost all credibility, but ultimately, they will have no choice!
And just this past weekend, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — now one of the most popular Republicans in the country — went even further, asking a raucous crowd, "Did anyone in here vote for Joe Biden? Do you guys really think he won?" during a rally in Florida.
Hell, according to one recent poll, a full 70% of Republican voters don't think Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president.
So what exactly is McCarthy trying to do here? I think it's a matter of hoping he can have his cake and eat it too. He's ousted Cheney from the GOP leadership, showing sufficient fealty to the reality-adverse wing of the Trump-addled Republican Party. Now he's hoping to claim some small semblance of respectability, which Democrats and more mainstream (and frequently retired) Republican lawmakers have been eager to shower on Cheney herself.
Of course, as is plain from the obvious ridiculousness of McCarthy's statement Wednesday, that's not gonna fly. Or, at least, it wouldn't, if he was a member of a party that hadn't surgically removed any last shred of shame or accountability. Instead, the Republican Party that McCarthy is attempting to ride like a bucking bronco is one that respects only one thing: power, and the acquisition thereof. So long as McCarthy can prove to his caucus — and now, to Trump — that he can still deliver the goods, he's safe. At least for the time being.