Back in February, GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a list of demands for a potential 9/11-style bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Shockingly, the proposed bipartisan commission that emerged in May with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s blessing basically checked all of McCarthy’s boxes—a clear bid to gain Republican buy-in for a serious bipartisan inquiry into the most violent attack on the U.S. seat of government since the nation's founding.
But sensing the danger of a credible investigation into the Trump-inspired insurrection, McCarthy quickly turned on the Jan. 6 commission, dismissing it as too partisan and narrowly focused. After all, it might uncover the truth, which would be ... well ... horrific. Donald Trump issued his own statement that same day demanding GOP consideration of the commission end "immediately." The one-two punch helped torpedo GOP support for the commission, which ultimately faltered in the Senate.
True to his brand, McCarthy had ably backed himself into a corner of his own making. The GOP collapse in support for the bipartisan commission effectively left Pelosi with one viable option going forward: forming a Democratically controlled select committee. And so she did, giving McCarthy an opportunity to select five GOP members to join GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who already accepted Pelosi's invitation for a committee seat. And that has left McCarthy with pretty much no good options.
With the help of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, McCarthy made the committee so toxic that roughly zero serious Republicans (a nearly extinct breed) want a seat on the committee. Why? Because like it or not, they all know the Republican Party is now fully, 100% committed to a cover-up campaign that gaslights Americans about what really happened on Jan. 6, who was responsible, and whether the GOP itself bears at least partial blame for the homegrown terror attack on our democracy.
What that leaves for McCarthy are unhinged, reality non-adjacent GOP attention seekers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who are jockeying for a seat on the committee. Naturally, that would only amplify their unbelievable stupidity and the fact that the GOP owns them and has proceeded to elevate their platform. MTG won't be winning back any suburbs for Republicans in 2022, and even someone as daft as McCarthy knows it.
Of course, Pelosi still obtains veto power over McCarthy's picks, so he might simply decide to nominate the worst of the worst (i.e., MTG, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, etc.) and then pillory Pelosi's supposed partisanship when she ultimately rejects them (which she would).
In essence, McCarthy’s not so good/very bad options have left him at a "crossroads," as Politico put it. He could have had an evenly split commission with coequal subpoena power and the ability for Republicans to block any subpoenas they deemed too threatening. The commission also would have issued its findings by the end of the year, marking a finite and relatively short window for the probe. Instead, McCarthy opted for a crap sandwich in which GOP powers have been greatly reduced and the inquiry will extend into next year. The mainstream press seems to have caught on to McCarthy's dilemma, though it hasn't quite absorbed the fact that this is a disaster of his own making.
We at Daily Kos, however, would like to congratulate McCarthy on his fire-ready-aim strategy. The forethought was, well, stunning, if not entirely predictable.