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McCarthy's Got Troubles

We are getting close to the time when Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) must somehow pay the piper. He secured his current post, and held onto it, with several displays of political jiu-jitsu that we didn't know he had in him. But by the end of the month, the government needs to be funded. If not, it will shut down and Republicans will likely get the blame. Given that McCarthy needs the votes of Freedom Caucusers who think that would be a fine and dandy outcome, if the Speaker is going to extract himself from the mess he's in, he's going to need to show some moves that would put Bruce Lee to shame.

Before we get to the actual news from yesterday, let's lay out the various things that McCarthy is dealing with as he plots his chess (checkers?) moves:

In short, it's a mess, and one in which McCarthy is clearly not willing to pursue the obvious solution, namely reaching across the aisle.

And that brings us to the actual news from yesterday. All the signs pointed in this direction, and now it's come to pass: The Speaker announced that he was initiating a formal impeachment inquiry targeting Biden. He wants the relevant committees to take a long look at Hunter Biden, the DoJ, the border and whatever else they can think of.

Let us now consider some of the problems with impeaching Biden:

Bringing it all together, here's what it boils down to: In an effort to placate the Freedom Caucus, and to get them to back a CR, McCarthy backed the impeachment inquiry the FCers so badly wanted. However, the inquiry isn't going to go anywhere, and certainly isn't going to lead the House to pass an impeachment resolution. Meanwhile, it's also not going to placate the FCers. They insist on getting 100% of what they want, and will not be happy with anything less. Indeed, just about an hour after McCarthy announced the impeachment inquiry, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took to the floor to talk about how it might be time to talk about removing the Speaker from his post.

We haven't the faintest idea how this all ends. But the odds that McCarthy is still speaker by the time Christmas rolls around are, what, 50/50 at best?

Oh, and another little detail. If Gaetz brings up a motion to vacate the chair, all the Democrats and the FCers will vote for it. Presto! Empty chair. But the House needs a speaker. Remember last time the chair was technically vacant, say, Jan. 3, 2023? It took the better part of a week and 15 rounds of voting to fill it. Would it be easier this time around? Is there anybody that 218 Republicans could support for House speaker (other than maybe Donald Trump)? If it took a couple of weeks for the House Republicans to elect a compromise speaker with the help of Democratic votes (say, a moderate, noncontroversial Republican), then Democrats would campaign in 2024 on a platform of "The Republicans are crazy and can't govern. Vote a straight Democratic ticket to flush them all down the toilet." Yes, McCarthy made a deal in January, but he should have read Faust before doing so. It has some useful lessons. (Z)

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