McCarthy grew as Speaker by raising the debt limit and surviving the right-wing backlash. He showed he can lead rather than follow.
S peaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has never been a favorite of mine, though of all the options to be elected Speaker, I thought he was the best one. Of the options, he was the least ideologically crazy.
Being President of the United States or Speaker of the House can, for most, be a growing experience. The responsibilities of the job tend to slap you in the face when you are stepping into them.
McCarthy, thanks to the importance and ramifications of failure on the debt limit increase, is having a huge growth spurt. He’s not only winning on doing the right and only thing to do (raise the limit), but he may be growing out of the extreme leverage his right-wing caucus laid on him with their deal to simplify the way to get rid of a Speaker.
Not only does it appear that McCarthy will prevail on the compromise he made with President Biden, but the Freedom Caucus overnight began calming itself over its knee-jerk plan to hold a vote to rid them of McCarthy because of what it sees as his betrayal of “conservative” principles.
It’s clear that McCarthy seems to have the votes and support on his side (not overwhelmingly). That’s not something his skeptics (me included) thought would happen. His clear craven need for the power of being Speaker, for the moment anyway, seems to have transformed into a craven, no-choice but to support the debt limit increase.
He also apparently will not lose his job over this issue, which was one of the key levers of power the rightest-wing Republicans were threatening yesterday.
It also should be a lesson that he can lead rather than follow.
That doesn’t mean he’s there yet, but he’s taking more than baby steps so far.
▪ Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 1 June 2023, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
▪ Cover: Flickr/The White House. - President Joe Biden greets House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he arrives to deliver his State of the Union address. | 8 February 2023. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)