The House of Representatives said farewell Thursday to ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has resigned his seat. It was an exercise in pretense, with everyone pretending that McCarthy had accomplished anything beyond the bare minimum of keeping the government’s doors open.
“Political mastermind” is definitely the howler of that amazing list. The man himself gave his own political eulogy, keeping up with the absurd theme of “McCarthy the statesman.” He then spoiled the effect with all the nasty partisan sniping that we’ve come to expect from him, with digs at both former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.
But his rewriting of his own history was the most remarkable part of the farewell address. “If you come across that question of whether you should do what is right out of fear of losing your job, do it anyways,” he said. Yes, he said “anyways” in his formal final address. But what came next was the really embarrassing bit: “Because it is the right thing to do and this is what the nation requires.”
Sure, the history books will remember McCarthy for always doing the right thing. As if.
No, McCarthy’s real legacy will be the chaos of his selection as speaker, all 15 votes of it, and the chaos of his short tenure as well as how it ended, with McCarthy as the only speaker in the history of the United States to be ousted. (So far, anyway. Current Speaker Mike Johnson seems to be on that slippery slope.)
He’ll also be remembered for being the guy who spoke the truth about Donald Trump well before he reached the White House. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: [former Republican Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump. … Swear to God,” McCarthy infamously said in a private meeting with House leadership in June 2016.
“Swear to God.” That sure didn’t stop him from kissing Trump’s ring.
That’s McCarthy’s pitiful legacy.
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