Today is likely to be a pretty big day for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He and his Republican colleagues will meet behind closed doors this afternoon, at which point the GOP leader expects to be nominated for Speaker of the House.
The process, however, is proving to be unexpectedly difficult. The right-wing House Freedom Caucus announced yesterday that its members are throwing their support behind Rep. Dan Webster (R-Fla.), one of McCarthy’s lesser-known rivals. Even if that proves inconsequential, McCarthy will still have to wait until Oct. 29 – three weeks from today – before the House officially elects the new Speaker, giving his rivals and his critics 21 days to derail his promotion.
McCarthy’s principal trouble is his accidental candor: he recently admitted that his party’s Benghazi committee is a taxpayer-funded political operation intended to undermine Hillary Clinton. Everyone already knew that, but GOP officials aren’t supposed to admit this truth out loud. McCarthy told an intra-party secret and he’s been in trouble ever since.
The California Republican is still scrambling to clean up his mess, conceding yesterday that he “could have been more clear in my description of what was going forward.” But National Journal noted that’s not all McCarthy said.
“Let’s be very clear: Benghazi is not political,” McCarthy said. “It was created for one purpose and one purpose only: to find the truth on behalf of the families of the four dead Americans. Period.”“The integrity of [Committee Chairman Rep.] Trey Gowdy, the integrity of the work that has been done has never come into question, and it never should be. Stop playing politics,” he added.”
Let’s take these one at a time.
First, McCarthy probably doesn’t believe his own rhetoric about the GOP’s Benghazi committee being non-political. In fact, we know the opposite is true because McCarthy told us so last week.
Second, to say that the work of the partisan Benghazi scheme has never been called into question is the exact opposite of the truth. The committee’s work has been repeatedly accused of wrongdoing, and those accusations are bolstered by compelling evidence.
But it’s McCarthy’s demand that his critics “stop playing politics” that stands out as a unique gem. What the House Majority Leader is arguing, in effect, is that he resents his detractors playing politics with his attempts to play politics.
What did McCarthy think would happen? That Democrats would stop quoting him – accurately – after he went on national television and confirmed everything they’ve argued for the last year?