House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared on Fox News last night and described the kind of investigation he wanted to see into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. "When we had a 9/11 Commission, they didn't look at just what happened on 9/11. They looked at what built up to 9/11," the GOP leader said. "That's what we requested."
In other words, McCarthy expected viewers to believe he "requested" a 9/11 Commission-style investigation into January's insurrectionist riot -- which is amazing given that Democrats agreed to a 9/11 Commission-style investigation, right before McCarthy killed the idea.
Watching the clip, I found myself thinking about a column the Washington Post's Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, wrote in February, when he described McCarthy as "the United States' most disgraceful political leader."
Seldom has a political figure misunderstood his country and its challenges more comprehensively than McCarthy. This is not a time for balancing; it is a time for choosing.
To be sure, McCarthy has made plenty of choices, most notably about the election and his party's lies surrounding Donald Trump's defeat. The trouble is, as regular readers know, each of the House GOP leader's choices have been wrong.
On Nov. 6, for example, McCarthy appeared on Fox News and falsely insisted that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election. "Everyone who's listening, do not be quiet," the Republican told Fox News viewers. "We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes."
On Dec. 11, McCarthy signed his name to a ridiculous legal brief, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn election results for no reason.
On Jan. 6, after the pro-Trump mob assaulted the Capitol, two-thirds of the House Republican conference voted against certifying President Biden's victory. McCarthy, the would-be House Speaker, sided with his right-wing colleagues against democracy.
On Jan. 13, McCarthy conceded that Trump "bears responsibility" for the attack on the Capitol -- a position the Minority Leader espoused while pleading with members not to hold Trump responsible. The Californian soon after contradicted his own position.
Also on Jan. 13, McCarthy endorsed "a fact-finding mission" related to the attack on the Capitol. He later abandoned this position, too.
On Jan. 28, McCarthy humiliated himself by traveling to Mar-a-Lago to effectively kiss Trump's ring.
On April 25, McCarthy tried to defend Trump's Jan. 6 conduct with assertions that were literally unbelievable and contradicted his own earlier observations.
On May 18, McCarthy announced his opposition to the Jan. 6 commission, despite the fact that House Democrats had already accepted his demands and reached a compromise agreement with McCarthy's own point-person.
On June 25, McCarthy began a public-relations campaign against a bipartisan special select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. The p.r. effort was based entirely on absurd and misleading claims.
On July 19, McCarthy chose five Republicans to serve on the select committee, three of whom voted against certifying the 2020 election results. The motivations behind the misguided selections were unsubtle: the GOP leader picked members who had no intention of participating in a serious and objective investigation.
On July 21, when two of his picks were rejected -- one is a potential witness, another publicly denounced the investigation he ostensibly was supposed to be part of -- McCarthy announced a partisan boycott of the process he was opposed to anyway. He soon after said he was launching his own investigation, which will apparently focus on trying to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the attack.
Leaders in difficult positions are bound to make occasional missteps, but the House Republican leader has an uninterrupted record of getting every aspect of the post-election crisis wrong.