Happy first Tuesday in 2023. The fun never stops. We thought we’d be able to announce the new Speaker of the House tonight. We thought we knew who it was going to be, but no, the race for speaker is still ongoing. Voting has been suspended for the day. It’s going to resume again tomorrow.
Now, the fact that this race has not been settled by now is being described, especially online by many, as embarrassing – and it is embarrassing if you prefer the Soviet-style consensus of the Democratic Party’s internal elections, where votes are merely a formality and all the really big decisions, the meaningful ones, are made years in advance by donors. Oh, of course, everyone’s on board. That’s what they do.
But if you prefer democracy to oligarchy, if you prefer real debates about issues that actually matter, it’s pretty refreshing to see it. Yes, it’s a little chaotic, but this is what it’s supposed to be. Now, we’re going to give you a lot more to tell them what’s happening in just a minute and throughout the week, but first, a quick overview to frame the big points.
Kevin McCarthy of California was going to be speaker. He badly wants to be speaker. In fact, he wants that job more than anything else in his life and he was going to get it. But then a group of 20 Republican members stopped him. Now they stopped him because they decided that Kevin McCarthy is not conservative enough to represent a party that’s just taking back the House from Nancy Pelosi. and they are definitely right about that.
McCarthy is not especially conservative. He is, in fact, ideologically agnostic. He’s flexible. His real constituency is the lobbying community in Washington. So, if you’ve got sincere political beliefs, that is infuriating to watch. On the other hand, to be fair, this is politics and McCarthy does have strengths. It’s not easy being speaker when the House is this closely divided. and in some ways Kevin McCarthy is perfectly suited for that.
He is skilled in politics, not a small thing. And critically, McCarthy is willing to spend the next two years living in hotel rooms, raising money for his party ahead of a historic presidential election. What other Republican in the House is willing to do that? Well, as of tonight, and we have checked, no one has stepped forward. So, really the pivotal question is how badly does Kevin McCarthy want this job? 20 of his colleagues have just publicly disavowed him loudly and again and again.
To win them back, McCarthy is going to have to give them something real, not more airy promises, which he specializes in. He’s going to have to give them actual concessions. If Kevin McCarthy wants to be the speaker, he is going to have to do things he would never do otherwise.
Like what? We can think of at least two things. First, released the January 6 files—not some of the January 6 files and video—all of it. And not just some phony committee that will hide them, that in fact is designed to hide them from the public, but put them online. Release them to the public directly so the rest of us can finally know what actually happened on January 6, 2021. It’s been two years. It’s long overdue. It’s our right as Americans to know, and McCarthy could tell us.
Second, Kevin McCarthy could put Thomas Massie of Kentucky in charge of a new Frank Church committee designed to discover what the FBI and the intel agencies have been doing to control domestic politics in this country. They’ve been doing a lot, but no one in Washington wants to talk about it. This topic is effectively off limits and has been. In fact, no one’s talked about it for almost 50 years.
And so because no one has talked about it or stopped it, the rot has spread and democracy has withered. You can feel it. The FBI is now a bigger force in American elections than any single group of voters.
This cannot continue. It is poison, and Kevin McCarthy is uniquely situated right now to stop it. So, by striking a deal with his 20 colleagues, McCarthy could restore our system to health and at the very same time get the job he has always wanted. It’s not so complicated. Let’s hope he does it.