April 27, 2022

The Kevin McCarthy tapes just keep coming, and the latest round have the far-far-right annoyed at not just McCarthy and Rep. Liz Cheney but other members of Republican leadership as well. All because in the days after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, McCarthy and other Republican leaders were a little bit honest, in private, about what had happened and the role of some Republican House members in inciting an insurrection.

New recordings released by The New York Times have McCarthy saying, of comments by Rep. Matt Gaetz about Cheney: “He’s putting people in jeopardy. And he doesn’t need to be doing this. We saw what people would do in the Capitol, you know, and these people came prepared with rope, with everything else.” 

It’s potentially illegal what he’s doing,” Rep. Steve Scalise, the second-ranking House Republican, said of Gaetz.

In response to their comments about him, Gaetz released a statement saying that McCarthy and Scalise “held views about President Trump and me that they shared on sniveling calls with Liz Cheney, not us. This is the behavior of weak men, not leaders.” 

Gaetz … has a point? McCarthy is sniveling and weak and not a leader—but his failure to lead comes in his failure to follow through on his comments in these recordings from January 2021. The collapse of any interest he had in penalizing people like Trump and Gaetz and Brooks for their actions. One interesting question is whether McCarthy did call Gaetz in January 2021 to tell him to “cut this shit out,” as he indicated in that recording he planned to do. But don’t look for McCarthy to rebut Gaetz by proving that he did call him to say that.

House Republican leaders also discussed Rep. Mo Brooks’ rally speech on Jan. 6, in which he said it was “the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

”You think the president deserves to be impeached for his comments?” McCarthy responded to that line. “That’s almost something that goes further than what the president said.”

In response to hearing about deleted tweets by Rep. Barry Moore of Alabama—including one saying, “it was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran”—McCarthy muttered, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”

These and other comments in the recordings have McCarthy and other Republican leaders under fire from more than just Gaetz. Tucker Carlson is big mad. McCarthy “sounds like an MSNBC contributor,” Carlson said, warning that “unless conservatives get their act together right away, Kevin McCarthy or one of his highly liberal allies like Elise Stefanik is very likely to be speaker of the House in January. That would mean we will have a Republican Congress led by a puppet of the Democratic Party.”

Stefanik, mind you, replaced Cheney in Republican leadership because she managed to meet the Trump loyalty test. Apparently that’s no longer good enough.

“Heck, yeah,” he was concerned about McCarthy wanting Republicans kicked off Twitter, Rep. Andy Biggs told CNN. Taking away Twitter accounts is “not something I’m for,” said Rep. Scott Perry, head of the House Freedom Caucus.

The Republican Party is in disarray, but with the extremists and inciters of insurrection poised to come out on top, and McCarthy scrambling to appease them in any way he can, that’s not as much fun as it usually is. These recordings put into stark relief the utter collapse of any significant opposition by Republican leaders to a violent attempt to overturn an election. Less than 18 months after McCarthy was hoping for some of his members of be kicked off Twitter and claiming he was going to tell Gaetz to “cut this shit out” and urge Trump to resign, he has become entirely committed to sucking up to the far right to bolster his hopes of becoming speaker. Those hopes may have taken a hit, but that doesn’t mean anything good for the Republican Party’s support for democracy.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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