The McCarthy Speakership Fight Is Only a Preview
The chaos conference.
Last night’s TNB was one of the best shows we’ve done. Our guest Jonathan Martin was awesome, Joe Perticone made his triumphant debut, Tim and Amanda brought the fire. Five stars. Hard recommend.
It’s only for members of Bulwark+.
1. It’s Not About Kevin
At some point, the House will name a speaker. Maybe today. Maybe over the weekend. Maybe next week. Maybe two weeks from now.
That speaker might be Kevin McCarthy. Or Steve Scalise. Or someone else.
At that point, a bunch of people will say, “Phew. We got it done. Let’s move on.”
And here is the essential, foundational problem: This fight over the speaker’s gavel is exactly what every important vote in the House over the next two years is going to look like.
The speaker’s fight is the debt ceiling fight is the budget fight is the Ukraine aid fight.
Meaning: One half of the federal legislature will be mostly non-functional for the next two years.
And that’s why the Speaker McCarthy stuff is so important. Not because it’s the main event, but because it’s the template.
Why is this?
You could say that the Republican conference is non-functional because the party’s majority is too small. Except that Democrats had the same majority in the last Congress and managed one of the most productive sessions in recent history.
So maybe it’s the character of the majority?
Every House conference since the dawn of time has had nuts and back-benchers who were out of step with the general public. This Republican conference has more of them than usual. Probably a lot more. But are we talking about a standard deviation more?
I don’t think so.
So maybe it’s the leadership? Maybe the fault is that the Trump years skewed the conference leadership to such a degree that it left McCarthy et al too compromised to effectively manage their members.
But I don’t think that’s it, either. As others have pointed out, every Republican speakership in recent years has ended in failure. (Or prison.) Is the current leadership team dumber and more incompetent than Paul Ryan’s group? Probably. But again: More than a standard deviation’s worth?
Again: I don’t think so.
So why is this Republican conference different from all other conferences?