(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the inner sanctum of House GOP offices right now, as the incoming majority party, in hushed whispers, offers its honest opinions about the prospect of electing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as its new speaker.
If the GOP faces a post-Trump identity crisis, the decision on whether or not to elevate the California Republican may prove to be a decisive battle in it.
Following a lackluster campaign season and tepid midterm victory, it is essential that Republicans use the power conferred upon them by voters to right the wrongs of Nancy Pelosi’s norm-violating tenure with strength and decisiveness.
But instead, they seem intent on following the path of least resistance, still accustomed to cowering in fear over the punishment that the entrenched D.C. Establishment might inflict upon them for any type of rabble-rousing.
Such feckless stewardship could result in two more years in which an emboldened Biden administration continues to act with impunity—and also pave the way for Republicans, once more, to clutch defeat from the jaws of certain victory in 2024.
PARTY VS. PRINCIPLE
In fairness, the politics of defecting on a McCarthy vote is a delicate and risky business.
According to CBS News, only three prominent Republican congressmen thus far have spoken out in opposition: Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Ralph Norman of South Carolina. All are members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
“It’s a tall order,” said Biggs regarding McCarthy’s viability. “I know he thinks he’s going to get there. I don’t know that he can.”
A handful of other House Republicans (including Reps. Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana) have expressed their concerns, but in a secret ballot, only 31 of the current GOP House members voted against McCarthy, with 188 voting in support.
Following the GOP caucus’s decision to back the current minority leader, going against the party could cost disloyal members valuable political concessions, such as leadership roles on committees.
Moreover, former President Donald Trump has expressed his support for McCarthy as speaker, even though McCarthy’s record of loyalty to Trump has been mixed.
For Greene, one concern is that a divided GOP could open the door for more unified Democrats to force a compromise—potentially even ex-Rep. Liz Cheney, since House rules do not stipulate that the speaker need be an elected member, even though tradition dictates that it should be.
Jordan—who would be the ideal candidate for the speaker job—seems to know his place in the pecking order and to value his presumptive role as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Or perhaps he is simply waiting in the wings for a McCarthy implosion like those of several other GOP House leaders in recent memory.
A LEGACY OF WEAKNESS
Former Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan both lost the trust of their own GOP base after proving to be too accommodating to the Left during the Obama administration and the first half of Trump’s presidency.
Meanwhile, McCarthy’s predecessor as House majority leader, Eric Cantor, was voted out of office in favor of a more conservative candidate, now ex-Rep. Dave Brat, in the 2014 primaries.
But according to the lifetime rankings compiled by the American Conservative Union, McCarthy’s score of 84.19/100 on a measure of conservative values puts him well below all three of the ousted ex-GOP leaders who were deemed too weak and ineffective.
In a recent interview with The Floridian, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—himself a one-time charter member of the Freedom Caucus—outlined one possible weakness that all of these perceived centrist, pro-Establishment leaders had in common:
“Part of the frustration that I have had, the House and Republican rule has not been as effective as it needs to be in doing oversight,” said DeSantis, who is positioned to be Trump’s most formidable challenger—if not the frontrunner—in the GOP’s 2024 presidential primaries.
With Ryan as speaker and McCarthy as majority leader, GOP rank-and-file members on the House Oversight Committee were blocked from investigating.
“When that scandal broke, we were barred from the leadership from doing one hearing, one subpoena, and nothing in the congress about the Clinton Foundation,” DeSantis said. “You had all this money going into the foundation from foreign governments, you had money going to Bill Clinton from foreign governments, you had Hillary taking action as Secretary of State.”
This time around, McCarthy has been quick to dole out promises in return for the support of the party’s right flank, according to mainstream media reports.
But all indications point to the likelihood that he may ultimately renege on some of those red-meat agenda items, including the Hunter Biden investigation being promised by presumptive Oversight chair James Comer, R-Ky.
At the very least, McCarthy has one significant conflict of interest: his decadeslong camaraderie with former roommate Frank Luntz, a notorious RINO pollster known helping Big Tech companies like Google in their efforts to manipulate and misdirect conservative opinion.
McCarthy, who is married with two children, acknowledged renting a room for at Luntz’s three-bedroom penthouse apartment in downtown Washington, D.C., during the height of the pandemic, CNBC reported.
“Yeah, I rented a room from Frank for a couple of months,” he told Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy after the news broke.
“But don’t worry,” he added. “I’m going back to where I am normally … back to the couch in my office.”
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is asked about Tucker Carlson's criticism of his roommate situation with Frank Luntz:
"I didn’t know how this was controversial. Frank has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years." pic.twitter.com/7WfZlQHeLB
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 4, 2021
Among McCarthy’s efforts to downplay the appearance of anything unseemly about his arrangement with the unmarried Luntz were his assurances that he had paid “fair market rate” and that “Frank has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years.”
But to Carlson and others, that was hardly reassuring.
“Now you know why they listen to Frank Luntz and not you,” said the Fox host.
Frank Luntz & Kevin McCarthy. Not only are they friends. They are roommates. pic.twitter.com/nYGXxV5bya
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) May 4, 2021
During—or shortly before—their cohabitation, in fact, the McCarthy-controlled Majority Committee PAC was also paying consulting fees of nearly $40,000 to Luntz, according to the Washington Post.
And Luntz was likely working in tandem with McCarthy on developing his much ballyhooed “Commitment to America,” a framework for the GOP majority that was sparse on addressing the important issues around which many in the party were building their campaigns.
“My mission with Kevin McCarthy is to have him be that specific—is to have him have the courage of his convictions knowing that the things that the Republicans support for the most part have the support of more than the things that the Democrats support,” Luntz said in an April 2021 interview with another former GOP House speaker, Newt Gingrich.
“And if he has the courage of his convictions and he has an entire conference working and being honest and candid with the American people that’s how you get elected in this cynical dark environment,” Luntz added.
Luntz also headlined another GOP-led event that same month concerning “messaging guidance on hot topics,” Politico reported.
THE LAPTOP CONNECTION
If the messaging and fundraising failures that the party witnessed in the 2022 midterms can be attributed to the lure of Luntz’s wayward influence, the GOP’s leadership agenda once in power could prove to be much of the same under McCarthy.
One situation that is sure to present some discomfort for him is Luntz’s connection to Hunter Biden’s notorious laptop from Hell.
Among the many compromising materials uncovered on the now-verified laptop was an email correspondence with the exceedingly chummy Luntz, who castigates the Bidens for being “fair-weather friends” and points out that he had declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2012 vice-presidential debate over Paul Ryan, who was a current client of his at the time.
Hey @FrankLuntz can you confirm this email? Asking for @SpeakerRyan. We may have a few more that you could confirm as well. . . .!
— Steve Bannon’s War Room October 21, 2020
“[T]he way he responds makes it seem his behavior/official actions was influenced by how the Bidens treated him, rather than an objective assessment, that he was craving being treated as the ‘friend’ he thought he was,” noted Red State. “It’s actually a pretty embarrassing email.”
However, Luntz shrugged off the obsequious correspondence, insisting—in classic D.C. politico form—that it was all old news.
I’m not sure what the bombshell is here.
• I’ve known the Bidens since I taught Beau at UPenn in the early 90s.
• I’ve also dined in the Oval Office and ridden on Air Force 1 with President Trump.
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) October 22, 2020
Nonetheless, it raises questions as to whether he might be called upon to testify about his knowledge of the Biden family’s business affairs.
And given the forgetfulness that Luntz and McCarthy had in acknowledging their own relationship, it further fuels concerns as to whether the presumptive House speaker—who will be responsible for keeping the Biden family corruption in check—might himself be one of Hunter’s drinking buddies.
McCarthy’s outraged reaction to a revelation by Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., that he had witnessed cocaine use and had been invited to drug-fueled orgies with powerful members of Congress did not help to tamp down those suspicions.
Following the allegations from Cawthorn, McCarthy tried quickly to discredit the young congressman.
“In the interview, he claims he watched people do cocaine,” McCarthy said.
“Now then, when he comes to tell me, he says no—he thinks he saw maybe a staffer in a parking garage from 100 yards away and tells me that he doesn’t know what cocaine is,” McCarthy continued. “I just told him he’s lost my trust.”
Cawthorn conveniently was defeated this year by a primary challenger. But for McCarthy and his D.C. cronies, the Party never stops.
Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at truthsocial.com/@bensellers.