Kevin McCarthy spent Tuesday fighting for the House speaker’s gavel once again—this time unsuccessfully, as he became the first speaker ever ousted—and like clockwork, Republicans put their total dysfunction on display.
As McCarthy fought to keep the job that it took him 15 rounds of voting to get in the first place, Rep. Elise Stefanik, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, attempted to make the case for him, and it didn’t go well for either McCarthy’s image or Stefanik’s connection to reality.
“Kevin McCarthy is a happy warrior,” Stefanik said. “He is tireless. He has that uniquely American grit. Under Kevin’s speakership that lasted 15 rounds of him never giving up, this Republican majority has exceeded all expectations.”
Setting aside the “happy warrior” cheese and the hilarious attempt to spin McCarthy’s 15 rounds of groveling into a display of grit, I guess that if your expectation was that McCarthy would face a motion to vacate the chair in February, then he exceeded expectations by making it to October before that happened. Similarly, it’s true that House Republicans exceeded many people’s expectations when they didn’t shut down the government over the weekend, but that’s a pretty low bar. And Rep. Matt Gaetz challenged McCarthy’s leadership because McCarthy, as Gaetz sees it, caved to Democrats to keep the government open. It’s dysfunction piled on dysfunction here.
Gaetz was not letting that one go. “I would just say if this House of Representatives has exceeded all expectations, then we definitely need higher expectations,” he responded.
Here’s the thing: Gaetz is not wrong about that. (Stopped clock, etc.) The expectations he wants this House to meet are expectations of chaos and government shutdowns and punitive funding cuts, but nonetheless, this House Republican majority isn’t meeting any set of expectations. Instead, the majority is scrambling from crisis to crisis—and most of those crises were created by House Republicans to begin with.
Gaetz’s take drew some laughter from Democrats, but it’s safe to say that, in general, he is not making very many friends this week. Rep. Chip Roy, who in January voted against McCarthy 11 times before flipping and helping McCarthy across the finish line, seems a little ticked off.
“You want to come at me and call me a RINO, you can kiss my ass. Look, I’ve spent a lifetime fighting for limited-government conservatism. I have laid it all on the line. I’ve not seen my family for two days in the last 30 days. You go around talking your big game and you thumping your chest on Twitter? Yeah, come in my office and come have a debate, mother——. You know why? Because I’m standing up for this country every single day.”
It sure seems like things are going to settle down and be collegial and productive when the motion-to-vacate fight is over, doesn’t it?
Sign if you agree: No more MAGA circus. Hakeem Jeffries for Speaker!