You Made Your Bed, My Kevin. Now Toss and Turn in It.

You Made Your Bed, My Kevin. Now Toss and Turn in It.

You Made Your Bed, My Kevin. Now Toss and Turn in It.

McCarthy’s desperation to keep the House speakership is driving the country toward shutdown. And he isn’t doing too well himself.


I never give up,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters Thursday morning, writing off the likelihood of a Republican-driven government shutdown. He repeated it on Friday. McCarthy never gives up, all right—never gives up on trying to placate the wing nuts in the GOP caucus, in order to hold on to his office at the expense of the country.

The shutdown is almost certain to begin at midnight Saturday night. Even nihilist Newt Gingrich, the GOP House speaker who triggered the 1995 shutdown after President Clinton wouldn’t let him leave Air Force One via the front steps, called this one “nuts.”

Roughly 1,000 news cycles ago, I wrote about McCarthy’s desperate cynicism after he suddenly changed his mind about impeaching President Joe Biden. Only a few news cycles earlier, McCarthy said the House would have to vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry. Suddenly, he was authorizing it himself, but everybody knew he was doing it as a sop to the wing nuts, hoping he’d get some help on avoiding a shutdown.

But he knew even when he did it that it wouldn’t work. As I said about McCarthy at the time: “His eyes looked dead. He took no questions, and turned on his heels to face the flags behind him. Maybe he already saw that it wouldn’t be enough to appease his most determined haters.”

Indeed, Florida Man Matt Gaetz immediately said it wasn’t enough and claimed he would move to oust McCarthy from the chair. That was two weeks ago, and he still hasn’t so moved. First of all, there’s no one to take McCarthy’s place. Also, Gaetz loves to watch McCarthy squirm. He’s like a sadistic bully boy pulling the wings off flies.

Nevertheless, McCarthy continues to try to placate, if not Gaetz—they seem to openly hate each other now—his lunatic-fringe allies. But it cannot be done. Gaetz and friends said they’d never support a continuing resolution to give Congress a few more weeks to negotiate. So McCarthy spent all week pretending to try to pass individual budget bills, but that didn’t work either. On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee held its first impeachment hearing, which the doomed speaker had authorized.

It went really well: One of the GOP’s lead witnesses, Kenneth Starr stooge (and George Washington University law professor) Jonathan Turley, admitted that he hadn’t seen evidence that would justify impeachment. California Democratic Representative Robert Garcia, who came prepared with big posters of Ivanka and Jared Kushner (as long as we’re talking about grifting presidential children), told CNN that Republicans entered a “freak out” mode because Turley was one of their “star witnesses.”

Great work, My Kevin.

On Friday, after the Senate passed a compromise continuing resolution to keep the government open, with less disaster relief and aid to Ukraine than its majority or Biden wanted, McCarthy finally put a continuing resolution of his own on the floor, defying Gaetz. But it was larded with ugly domestic budget cuts, and no Democrats supported it. Sadly for McCarthy, his moderate members did—but it failed nonetheless when the Gaetz caucus rejected it.

So if you’re keeping score at home, McCarthy put his moderate members at risk—by moderate, I mean they’re in districts Biden won in 2020, so they’ve got to be a little less crazy—to appease the nihilist caucus, who didn’t vote for the cruel CR anyway.

These moderates, by the way, almost to a person voted for McCarthy as speaker on the first ballot. For all that Gaetz was heralded as the gatekeeper when McCarthy won on the 15th ballot, remember that after all that wrangling and all that animosity, Gaetz merely voted “present,” shaving the number My Kevin would need to prevail by one. Prevail he did, but at what cost? To the country, and to his soul?

A mighty big one.

While progressives debated whether to panic about President Joe Biden’s poll numbers this week (I’m still firmly in the “don’t panic” camp), the actually disturbing poll results had to do with the shutdown. A Monmouth University poll said Americans were evenly divided on which party deserves blame for it, which is delusional. Every shutdown for in modern history has been triggered by the GOP, this one included.

Maybe that’s because the media has covered it poorly? That happens. Maybe it’s a Democratic messaging issue. That happens, too. Whatever your analysis, Biden shifted things, a bit, when he reminded the media that McCarthy was reneging on the agreement he made with Biden at the end of May to avert breaching the debt ceiling.

“We made a deal,” Biden said, emphasizing that he negotiated directly with McCarthy. “Now they come along and say…we didn’t mean it.” The GOP wing nut caucus didn’t like it at the time, but neither did the House Progressive Caucus, many of whose members voted against it. That’s the nature of compromise, which I accept even if I don’t like the details.

He followed it up with a series of tweets (I’ll never call that hellsite X), including this one:

I’m not saying Biden’s remarks changed the terms of the debate—but I can’t say they didn’t. On Thursday, Politico’s Playbook had this analysis: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s choice to go back on the deal he made with the president is about to plunge the federal government into chaos.”

“Biden has a point here,” MSNBC’s Sahil Kapur told anchors later that day.

It’s the only way Democrats should frame this destructive stalemate. McCarthy is still bleating that Biden should meet with him. And I’m still watching cable news reporters ask House Democrats what they can do to rescue My Kevin. To a person, including moderates and conservatives, they say something to the effect of “nuh-uh, not ever happening.” As well they should. In fact, Democrats should strive in this crisis and beyond, whatever beyond is, to oust McCarthy.

My poor Kevin could end this at any time by going to House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, who kept his caucus together through those 15 grueling January votes, and making a reasonable deal. The Senate has already agreed to less than the debt-ceiling deal even provided. Again, there’s an easy compromise that could even survive if Gaetz and his fellow bullies and principled progressives voted against it. But he’s not doing that.

Now he’s trying one last, last dodge, with one last vote, sometime late Friday: He told reporters that any House Republicans who oppose it are “siding with Biden.” I don’t think any of them are dumb enough—and some are really dumb—to believe it.

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