The new HBO Max series, “Superman and Lois,” takes viewers to a “Bizarro” earth in which everything and everyone has a counterpart that’s the same but also the opposite in many ways. For example, Earth Superman’s counterpart has all of the same strength and power but completely different motivations and values. The concept lends itself to an interesting thought experiment: What if the Republicans could recruit a Bizarro Nancy Pelosi to lead their party? With all the same ruthlessness and cunning, yet different principles, how would a Bizarro Pelosi fight for the preservation and promotion of the Republican Party’s interests?
To start with, Bizarro Pelosi would never have tolerated the intelligence services, led by the FBI, interfering with her party’s election campaigns. The three-letter alphabet soup power brokers wouldn’t have dared. But if they had, Bizarro Pelosi would have launched a thousand salvos demanding tech companies and bureaucrats alike account for every act of censorship and misinformation. Think what the real Pelosi would have done if the FBI had helped derail the Democrats’ presidential candidate by deliberately censoring and falsely discrediting evidence that, say, Donald Trump, Jr. took money from the Russians and the Chinese Communists. Again, the FBI wouldn’t have dared.
Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in contrast, presents himself as an affable guy. He’s really good at not being offensive to anyone. Even his critics credit him with possessing the D.C. street smarts necessary to do the dirty business of yoking special interests to a party’s agenda. I’ve seen him speak just a few times, and I know he will, at least, speak out against the excesses of the Democratic Party. He repeatedly points out that Biden’s economic programs have degraded American paychecks by the equivalent of a month’s pay per year.
McCarthy did chime in following the revelations over the FBI’s interference in election-related political speech in key social media forums. He promised to “change the direction” of the FBI in addition to issuing subpoenas of government agents who coordinated with private businesses to suppress speech. The words are there. But McCarthy failed to command the respect necessary to put those words into action.
Congress just gave the FBI a huge budget increase after the FBI’s election interference came to light. McCarthy pressed his objections to the bill. He did not “sell out.” But Senate Republicans laughed in his face. As reported by Axios, Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “He’s focused on being speaker, and if I were in his shoes, that’s what I would be focused on, trying to get enough votes. But I don’t think that intimidates anyone.” Senator Mitt Romey (R-Utah) mocked McCarthy’s opposition to the omnibus bill as “silly.” When asked whether he supported McCarthy as the Speaker of the House, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters, “Absolutely, I’m pulling for Kevin. I hope he makes it.”
So the FBI gets away with it. Congressmen can scold and speechify. But the increased budget unmistakably encourages the FBI to keep on doing the same thing, only more so and with extra money. The posture of money now, reform later means reform never. As the FBI gets better and better at election meddling, the window of opportunity to stop it gets smaller and smaller. And if Republicans don’t find a way to fight for their party’s right to fully and fairly participate in elections, McCarthy may be the last Republican speaker of the House.
If the establishment had its way, McCarthy’s coronation would have proceeded without incident. But a small band of 20 or so congressmen rebelled. These legislators would never have had any leverage if the 2022 midterm elections had not been a total disaster for the Republicans. Historical trends, inflation, the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Biden’s general unpopularity pointed to a sweeping repudiation of the Democrats in November. But the Republicans nevertheless snatched a near-defeat from the gaping jaws of victory. If McCarthy had led a Republican “red wave,” he would not have needed these 20 votes.
McCarthy probably means well. But he’s not exactly dripping with Pelosi-style ferociousness. The party has a choice to make. Either it can act as a trustee in bankruptcy, presiding over the orderly phase-out of real political opposition. Or it can stand up for the voters who need a voice of opposition in government. New York Times editorial writers will screech and scold Republicans who have not yet surrendered to the rising hegemony of the Left. Let them squawk. Hopefully, McCarthy’s moxie in his battle to obtain the speaker gavel presages a new vigor and tenaciousness that’s needed to restore political freedom.
The country needs at least one party to challenge the administrative state’s subversion of political speech. It’s out in the open now. If there are no consequences, the government-directed censorship will just get more aggressive until the same party writes the script for both sides. Speaker McCarthy has a heavy burden to carry in the two short years before the FBI can manipulate another election.