Tuesday, November 08, 2022


I've run out of things to say about the midterms, at least until we have some actual results, so instead I'd like to talk about this New York Times story:
In an interview with Fox News, former President Donald J. Trump said he would support Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, in his bid for speaker if Republicans win back control of the House of Representatives with Tuesday’s election....

Mr. McCarthy’s team ... worked to smooth out the relationship with Mr. Trump after an audio recording was released that showed the minority leader telling his fellow G.O.P. leaders he was considering urging Mr. Trump to resign from office after the riot.

Mr. Trump was less enthusiastic about Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and minority leader. He has repeatedly called on Senate Republicans to replace Mr. McConnell as leader and used racist terms to disparage his wife, Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan.

The two have been at odds since Mr. McConnell said Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“I think we’ll probably have to live with him for two years,” Mr. Trump said, after calling him a “lousy” leader. “If I run and if I win, I will say, ‘Don’t send me any legislation if he’s the leader,’ and he’ll be out in two minutes.”
The conventional wisdom is that McConnell is evil but extremely shrewd, while McCarthy's most salient quality is that he's not very bright. But McCarthy seems like the shrewder one right now. He didn't get stuck this year having to prop up difficult-to-elect candidates chosen by Trump, the way McConnell did. He didn't have a top subordinate boasting about a potential threat to Social Security and Medicare -- there's no Rick Scott on his leadership team.

McCarthy does pal around with Marjorie Taylor Greene and other conspiratorialists and traitors, but somehow swing voters have never held that against the GOP's House candidates in competitive races. I think McCarthy is doing a better job of balancing the crazies and the (relative) normies than McConnell. It's why I think he might actually succeed in persuading the crazies not to do a Biden impeachment, which will be a sure loser in the Senate and will garner sympathy for the president (the carrot he'll dangle is unlimited investigations of Hunter Biden, the border, COVID origins, Afghanistan, the FBI, and whatever else is on Jim Jordan's wish list, or Greene's), and do it without being defenstrated the way John Boehner and Paul Ryan were when they weren't seen as extreme enough. (If he senses that his survival depends on a Biden impeachment, he'll go along and be a big cheerleader.)

I'm not saying any of this because I admire McCarthy. I think he's going to do many things that will be extraordinarily harmful to the country. But I think he's calculated what he needs to do to survive in the insane GOP of 2022, and McConnell might be losing his grip on this skill. But we'll see how it all plays out.

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