We’re Living in a Kevin McCarthy Doom Loop

The spending bill fight extends a career built on concessions, shamelessness, and selling out.

Jim Lo Scalzo/EFE/ZUMA

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For the second time in three days, a group of far-right House Republicans on Thursday blew up a short-term plan to fund the government, setting fire to efforts to avoid a government shutdown at the month’s end. 

“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters after failing once again to advance a spending bill. “That doesn’t work.”

Anyone who has paid even the smallest attention to McCarthy’s leadership, which itself only emerged after a series of historic humiliations and deals with the Big Lie’s worst offenders, is unlikely to sympathize. In fact, the top Republican is far more familiar with extremists intent on burning down the government than he lets on, having already caved to these very individuals on multiple occasions. The apotheosis of such self-serving capitulation came earlier this month when McCarthy, under pressure from these hardline Republicans, launched an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden despite clearly lacking the evidence to do so

But if McCarthy believed that ordering an impeachment inquiry would satisfy the Matt Gaetz’s of the party, they quickly dispelled that magical thinking. “The impeachment inquiry is right,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Virginia) told NBC News. Good is one of several Republicans to threaten that even a meritless impeachment inquiry would fail to satisfy them. “That has absolutely nothing to do with the spending battle,” he said. “We can do both at the same time.”

McCarthy is one of a few lawmakers who remained in D.C. this weekend to work on a short-term fix. And as of this Sunday writing, six days out from a looming government shutdown, no progress has been made. Perhaps a more productive exercise would be for the speaker to read my colleague Tim Murphy, who explains how a career of bankrupt morals and shameless groveling turned him into one of the most ineffective leaders in recent memory.

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