The California strain of McCarthyism shares a name, not a bloodline, with the Wisconsin original. The variant belongs to Kevin McCarthy, a Republican without distinction, whose political career represents the worst aspects of careerism. Unlike the demagogue from the Badger State, McCarthy is a fellow traveler of the red state politics of overconfidence and underperformance. Unlike Paul Ryan, a Wisconsinite in exile on the Potomac, or Eric Cantor, a Virginian with more seasons but lower ratings than “The Virginian,” McCarthy is a would-be speaker who does not know when to quit.
Unless House Republicans want to repeat Ryan’s losses or reproduce Cantor’s primary loss, there is no reason to reward McCarthy.
Unless House Republicans censure McCarthy by voting for someone else, the next speaker of the House will be this blind gunman; the titular star of Young Guns, a book in name only, whose co-authors include Ryan and Cantor.
The book reads like AI-generated text, intelligible but unreadable or decipherable but undesirable, because the authors have nothing to say.
McCarthy’s section is no journey through the 5 o’clock shadow of personal darkness, of bearing false witness regarding the number (205) of communists in the State Department, or of wreaking havoc while reeking of alcohol, because this McCarthy is not that McCarthy—which is not to Kevin McCarthy’s credit.
To behave contrary to congressional traditions, a politician need only be himself.
McCarthy is a nonentity in the sense that his biggest win is the product of a minor windfall.
But for buying a lottery ticket and winning $5,000, McCarthy would be nowhere near Congress. But for contributing to the financial delinquency of the desperate and poor, McCarthy’s backstory would be a footnote involving regressive taxation. But because of McCarthy’s supposed savvy, of winning rather than earning $5,000, he stands as a model of rectitude and drive.
Because no one challenges the neatness of McCarthy’s story, of his ability to turn a fluke into an adolescent’s idea of a small fortune, he maintains the illusion involving a dollar and a dream: that anyone can grow up to be second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president and ahead of the president pro tempore of the Senate.
This version of McCarthyism, of winning the lottery and investing the money in the stock market, is a tale of uninterrupted success.
The tale sounds like a story from a member of California’s 28th congressional district, not the life story of the representative for the state’s 23rd congressional district.
The tale is a load of Schiff in any district, because McCarthy is full of it.
Reality is the best counter to McCarthy’s dream about power.
Reality is not easy to accept, however.
Reality requires a constant struggle, so complacency may not weigh down the strong and weaken the resolve of the good; for McCarthyism is the complacency of fools or a know-nothing attitude for a do-nothing Congress.
McCarthyism is a minority of one, not the moral voice of a House majority.