There is little doubt that it was a massive blow to the ego of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) when he was ousted as the Speaker of the House.
Reports are now blowing up that McCarthy is struggling in the aftermath of his removal and is very seriously considering retirement. In fact, many of his colleagues expect him to step down.
McCarthy more or less signed a deal with the devil to get the gavel, and then he taunted the devil, thinking he was untouchable, which obviously proved to be untrue.
There is no need to rehash the drama between McCarthy and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), as it is well-documented, but it is worth noting that McCarthy literally brought that vote down upon himself.
He went against promises that were made when he was elected, and then he openly dared Gaetz to come after him, thinking there was no way close to a dozen Republicans would vote to have him removed… he was wrong, and it crushed his spirit and pride.
The one problem with Gaetz’s plan was that he was shooting from the hip, with no individual in place to replace McCarthy if his ouster was successful.
This turned the House into utter chaos, which is precisely what Democrats were hoping would happen. It made Republicans look both immature and incapable.
It also left McCarthy feeling very vulnerable, to the point he has pretty much stepped back after being in the limelight for most of the last five years.
McCarthy, for the use of a better term, was kneecapped by his fellow members of Congress after having driven hundreds of millions into campaign coffers during his time in leadership.
Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), one of McCarthy’s closest friends and allies in Congress, explained:
“When you spend two decades building something, it’s difficult to end that chapter.
“His life has been building the Republican majority and attaining the third-highest office in the land. It is difficult for any mortal to deal with an abrupt end and determine his next chapter.”
His enemies are feasting on him right now, most notably Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom McCarthy removed from his committee assignments after taking the gavel.
After the expulsion of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), Swalwell trolled McCarthy on X, posting:
“With Santos gone, you’re hearing it here first: the next GOP member to leave Congress will be @SpeakerMcCarthy.
“No way he stays. A guy who kidney punches his colleagues from behind is too afraid to serve out a full term with them. I bet he’s gone by end of year. What say you?”
Swalwell was referring to an alleged punch that McCarthy threw at Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) as they were in close quarters last month. Burchett was among those who sided with Gaetz to remove McCarthy as Speaker.
After the incident blew up on social media, McCarthy played the tough guy, stating:
“I guess our elbows hit as I walked by. If I would hit somebody, they would I know hit them.”
McCarthy does not exactly have an intimidating look or tough-guy persona, so that comment only drew more mocking.
Last week, McCarthy was in New York for a book appearance, and he was clearly downtrodden, stating:
“I just went through losing, so you go through different stages.
“I have to know that when I go, that there’s a place for me, and what am I going to do, and is that best?”
McCarthy went on to explain that he is taking his time making this decision, adding:
“I have to know that if I decided that wasn’t for me and I leave, I don’t want a year from now to think ‘Aw, I regret — I shouldn’t have left.’
“So if I take a little longer than most people normally, that’s just what I’m going through.”
If we are being honest, McCarthy has failed the party in many ways, and conservative voters called out his leadership after what most of us considered disastrous elections in 2020 and 2022.
There is no denying McCarthy’s ability to raise money, which is why many establishment Republicans want him to stay, but what does he really offer the party and voters?
He was arrogant during the Speaker election, and he was arrogant facing down removal, and now he is bent on revenge.
For example, during a recent interview with CNN, McCarthy, on his removal, stated:
“I don’t believe the conference will ever heal if there’s no consequences for the action.”
That statement says a lot, especially when you consider those who voted to oust him did nothing more than follow the rules as they were written.
McCarthy clearly has an ax to grind with Gaetz and has even recommended expulsion, the new buzzword in Congress, but Gaetz has done nothing to warrant expulsion other than upsetting McCarthy.
It is tough to see a path forward for McCarthy without his being a disruptor to exact revenge, so, from my perspective, the party would be better served for him to move on and allow some new blood to enter Congress.