House Speaker Kevin McCarthy being the most powerless speaker in history has quickly become a perennial curse on Senate Republicans, who need to feign at least need some modicum of moderation to have a chance of winning tough races in swing states.
McCarthy's latest blunder—granting right-wing propagandist Tucker Carlson exclusive access to countless hours of Jan. 6 footage—drew an urgent rebuke from Senate Republicans after Carlson twisted the deadly insurrection into a wholesome Leave-it-to-Beaver affair.
"Bullshit," remarked GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina when asked what he thought of Carlson's sanitized presentation.
Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota flat-out called Carlson's peaceful portrayal "a lie."
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah lamented Carlson going "off the rails like that."
GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas had a suggestion for his House Republican counterparts: “I think they need to watch a little less cable TV."
Carlson did manage to enlist Senate GOP support from the delusional MAGA lovers among them. Witness newly reelected Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tweeting, "Truth is beginning to be revealed," while thanking McCarthy and Carlson for "showing America the rest of the Jan. 6 story."
Why not? Johnson's been tunneling through a conspiracy rabbit hole for years and he just bought another six of them before having to face voters again.
But for McConnell and his allies, the reality of trying to win back the majority in 2024 weighs heavy after their tragic missed opportunity last November.
McConnell used his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon to step in front of the cameras with a copy of Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger's response to Carlson's segment. Citing "the presentation" on Fox, McConnell said he wanted to associate himself "entirely" with Manger's statement, which maintained Carlson had "conveniently cherry-picked from calmer moments" out of 41,000 hours of video.
Manger, addressing his officers within the statement, wrote:
You fought like hell on January 6 and risked your lives to protect the Constitution and everything this country stands for. You, along with our law enforcement partners, saved every Member of Congress and their staff.
TV commentary will not record the truth for our history books. The justice system will. The truth and justice are on our side.
McConnell, in effect, was hugging law enforcement as tightly as he could in the face of his House GOP counterparts undercutting any claim Republicans once had to being the supposed party of law and order.
Simply put, you can't be the party that trivializes a violent attack on the homeland that injured some 140 officers and then ask voters to trust you as the party that will keep their communities safe.
Senate Republicans just came off a cycle in which MAGA election deniers almost single-handedly doomed their chances to retake the upper chamber. Why? Because even though roughly 60% of Republicans think the 2020 election was stolen, a more decisive 60% of the electorate believes Joe Biden was legitimately elected president.
Equally as important, voters prioritized protecting democracy at the polls. Post-election polling conducted by Impact Research found that 60% of voters in 71 highly competitive districts called protecting democracy an extremely important motivation for them, including 73% of Democrats and 51% of independents.
For McConnell and his allies, watching House GOP lawmakers both facilitate and cheer on Carlson's denialism likely feels like Groundhog Day all over again. Their swift all-hands-on-deck response is also indication that they know this isn't the end of the line for House Republicans' delusional gaslighting on Jan. 6.
In fact, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer of Kentucky and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia are currently trying to organize a congressional delegation to visit Jan. 6 arrestees in jail, according to Politico.
GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia also said Wednesday that House Republicans are starting to scrutinize the work of the previous Jan. 6 select committee.
That revelation drew a response from the Jan. 6 panel's vice chair, former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
"If @HouseGOP wants new Jan 6 hearings, bring it on," Cheney tweeted Wednesday. "Let’s replay every witness & all the evidence from last year. But this time, those members who sought pardons and/or hid from subpoenas should sit on the dais so they can be confronted on live TV with the unassailable evidence."
If Senate Republicans thought McCarthy's latest blunder was a one-and-done situation, they might have tried to ignore it and move on instead of giving it life. Instead, they met it head-on—perhaps partially as a signal to House Republicans to maybe tone it down a bit. But even more importantly, it's increasingly clear that Senate Republicans need to seal themselves off from the House maniacs and their pet leader McCarthy.
Whatever resumé House Republicans think they are building for their next interview with voters in 2024, Senate Republicans are trying to disassociate themselves entirely from it.
Markos and Kerry luxuriate in the battle going on between Donald Trump’s ascending fascism and Mitch McConnell’s disappearing neocon establishment. The fighting has become much sharper recently as the MAGA-media outlet Fox News has traveled further and further away from reality.