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McCarthy tries and fails to turn democracy argument against Biden

It seems either Kevin McCarthy no longer knows what “democracy” means, or he’s cynically assuming the public isn't smart enough to know the difference.


The White House had already signaled days in advance why President Joe Biden had scheduled a prime-time address and the topic the Democrat intended to explore. With this in mind, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came up with a plan to try to turn the tables on the debate over the future of our democracy.

The New York Times reported:

[McCarthy] aligned himself with former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to undercut federal law enforcement over the search of Mar-a-Lago, condemning the court-ordered seizure of classified documents from the former president’s home as an “assault on democracy.” In a half-hour speech delivered from Scranton, Pa., Mr. McCarthy sought to take the themes that President Biden was hitting in a prime-time address and turn them on their head against Democrats, in a remarkable attempt at political jujitsu aimed at muddying the waters about Mr. Trump’s conduct and his handling of sensitive government material.

The political strategy behind the speech was based on a relatively straightforward idea: McCarthy knew that Biden would accuse much of the Republican Party of abandoning democracy, so the House GOP leader would effectively deliver remarks in which he said, “Oh yeah? Well, I think you’re the one who’s undermining democracy.”

As part of his remarks, for example, the Californian declared, “Joe Biden and Democrats support defunding the police, which led to an historic rise in crime. That is an assault on democracy.”

In reality, Biden and Democratic leaders have repeatedly and explicitly rejected defunding the police; it’s McCarthy’s own members who keep talking about defunding the FBI; sharp increases in crime rates began during Trump's presidency; and debates over law enforcement funding allocations do not represent an “assault on democracy.”

The minority leader added, “Joe Biden and Big Tech colluded to silence your freedom of speech and shut down your voice on the largest communication platform in the world. That is an assault on democracy.”

To be sure, this might theoretically be a problem if such “collusion” happened in reality, but since McCarthy made this conspiracy theory up, it’s easily discarded.

The GOP leader added, “Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress are hiring an army of 87,000 new IRS agents, more than the population of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to do what? To snoop around your bank account, your Venmo, your small businesses. That is an assault on democracy.”

Again, McCarthy was just brazenly lying, not only about the number of IRS agents, but also about the nature of their professional work. What’s more, as federal lawmakers need to understand, enforcing tax laws is not “an assault on democracy.”

But the would-be House Speaker then tried to land the big blow: “Joe Biden and a politicized Department of Justice launched a raid on the home of his top political rival, Donald Trump. That is an assault on democracy.”

For now, let's not dwell on the fact that McCarthy sided with his party's most radical members last year and voted against certifying the 2020 results, leaving him with no credibility when assessing "assaults on democracy.

Let's also brush past the fact that it was Trump, not Biden, who went to great lengths to politicize federal law enforcement — which unfolded during McCarthy’s tenure, though he raised no objections at the time.

More to the point, the House minority leader has had ample opportunity to learn just how serious the Mar-a-Lago scandal is, and instead of defending the rule of law, he’s still publicly condemning law enforcement — pretending that to do so is to put him on the right side of democracy. Indeed, the Republican suggested yesterday that investigating evidence of a suspected felony is somehow itself “an assault on democracy.”

It seems either McCarthy no longer knows what “democracy” means, or he’s cynically assuming those listening to his remarks weren’t smart enough to know the difference.