McCarthy faces down accusations he may secretly be a decent human
In today's GOP, virtue has become vice.
Over the past several days, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) has vehemently fought off the worst slander that a modern Republican could face: That behind the scenes, he might have a conscience.
On Thursday, McCarthy put out a statement forcefully denying he had called for President Donald Trump’s removal following the Jan. 6 insurrection that saw the U.S. Capitol engulfed in smoke. Following the coup attempt, which capped a months-long effort by Trump and his supporters to overturn the results of the November election, McCarthy reportedly told Rep. Liz Cheney and others he would urge the president to resign, even inquiring as to how to remove Trump via the 25th Amendment process.
In a statement released Thursday, McCarthy lied, saying he never raised any such topics with anyone.
“It comes as no surprise that the corporate media is obsessed with doing everything it can to further a liberal agenda,” McCarthy said, adding the story was “manufactured political intrigue from politically-motivated sources.”
But unfortunately, the conference call in which he made the statements was recorded, and that recording was made public on Thursday.
"I think [the articles of impeachment] will pass, and that would be my recommendation you should resign," McCarthy said. "That would be my take, but I don't think he would take it, but I don't know."
"I'm seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight," McCarthy said. "From what I know of him — I mean, you guys know him too - do you think he would ever back away?"
The episode might be the first time in American political history where a party leader hoped information didn’t leak that demonstrated he was a decent human being.
In 1983, Louisiana Gov. (and future federal inmate) Edwin Edwards declared, “The only way I can lose this election is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.” But now it appears McCarthy has been found guilty of an even more unforgivable transgression: turning against the GOP’s twice-impeached god-king.
Of course, McCarthy quickly realized the error of his ways and high-tailed it down to see Trump at Mar-a-Lago after the former president’s exoneration. There, McCarthy performed the humiliating but necessary ass-kissery needed to mend ties with Trump.
And it eventually led to this week’s disaster for the House Minority Leader, in which he was forced to lie in an effort to absolve Trump of any culpability for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The idea that a politician lies isn’t anything new, of course. Centuries of American political satirists have gutted elected officials for their blatant dishonesty. One poll conducted in 2021 ranked “Member of Congress” as the second most dishonest profession, behind only “Car Salesperson.” (“Senator” ranked third.)
But what is new is a politician lying to retain his reputation as someone who is untrustworthy. So…mission accomplished?
In telling such a blatant mistruth, McCarthy is actually playing a role in the political cycle that forced him to lie in the first place. The public, leery of dishonest politicians, began electing people like Trump, who “told it like it is.” Then, in order to cover up Trump’s lies, other Republicans had to lie even more.
In other words, McCarthy’s behavior is the reason people hate politicians, which forces voters to elect more people who are even worse than McCarthy. When deplorables like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and the like don’t show any results, people will continue to vote for even worse candidates who they think will fight even harder. (Gaetz took a shot at McCarthy on Twitter on Friday, telling him “you should have trusted my instincts, not your own.”)
If there is a silver lining for McCarthy, it is that dishonesty sells in today’s Republican Party. So he can claim to be just as mendacious as the members of his caucus who claim they have been secretly recruited to cocaine orgies or who think they are being stalked by the gazpacho police.
He just better hope nobody finds out that he, say, once volunteered to deliver meals to the elderly or that he donated blood. His party can only handle so much virtue.