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McCarthy’s final genuflection to Trump paints a picture of America’s possible post-midterm future


Rather, the choice he made – between telling a blatant lie or destroying his own dream of being a speaker by confirming the truth and alienating the ex-president – ​​reveals the vital power calculation that underlies the modern GOP. This dynamic gives Trump enormous potential proxy power if the party follows through on its strong prospects and wins the House of Representatives in November.

Greene, an extreme pro-Trump lawmaker, warned that McCarthy will have to satisfy a series of demands before getting votes for the speaker from her and like-minded Republican representatives. The trip will underscore how immigration — perhaps Trump’s signature issue — is a glue that binds GOP factions together and is central to the party’s midterm election quest given House vulnerabilities. White on the question.

The drama for McCarthy, who for a time last week threatened to wreck his career – until a seemingly magnanimous Trump collected his pledge of loyalty – was sparked when two New York Times reporters revealed that McCarthy had told other top Republicans that he was considering advising Trump to step down after the January uprising of last year. The House Minority Leader flatly denied the claim and criticized the reporters, Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, as tools of a biased corporate media. But appearing on MSNBC, reporters quickly revealed a tape that erased McCarthy’s denials and appeared to leave him on very thin ground.

In another era, McCarthy’s gutted credibility might have destroyed his political future. But at a time when most of the GOP’s power depends on Trump’s patronage, McCarthy’s subsequent re-engagement with the Trump movement might have actually bolstered his claims for the presidency.

And it proved that anyone aspiring to power in the GOP, at least in the House, must make a similar decision to prioritize loyalty to Trump over simple facts and truth.

This is not a partisan point – it is borne out by the events of four tumultuous years of the Trump presidency, two impeachments and the former president’s lies that the 2020 election was a fraud. And he represents lawmakers’ judgments about the views of their constituents in the party’s pro-Trump base, which remains strongly aligned with the ex-president and supportive of his 2020 alternate reality.

McCarthy and Trump sat down Thursday night to discuss the Times story. The young man’s apparent success in covering up what could have been a political nightmare suggests that the same reluctance to tell the truth about the ex-president’s excesses that plagued the GOP during his tenure will be a defining feature of American politics. in the midterm campaign. and before the 2024 election if Trump runs.

A midterm GOP victory would give Trump a potent weapon

McCarthy’s conduct confirmed that a future House GOP majority would function as a political affiliate of the ex-president. It will give Trump a potent weapon in Washington as he seeks to destroy the presidency of Joe Biden, his 2020 election winner and possible 2024 rival.
In practice, that would mean McCarthy giving even more leeway to staunchly pro-Trump members of the GOP conference — like Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who promises to hit Biden’s White House with investigations if Republicans get their way. the President’s gavel next year. Given that he is even more indebted to Trump than before, McCarthy may be less able to rule over GOP radicals like Greene. The Georgia Republican, testifying last week in an unprecedented disqualification hearing over whether she should be removed from office because of her alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurgency, has repeatedly said that she did not recall past comments or interactions and repeated false claims about Trump’s election victory.

In a broader sense, the events of the past few days raise serious questions for American democracy as Trump’s authoritarian streak has only deepened as he seeks to overturn the 2020 election and seeks to transform the 2022 midterm elections into a spectacle of personal revenge. And there’s even less evidence that the House GOP, which worked to whitewash its incitement on January 6, 2021, has the political interest or ability to do anything to restrict it in the future.

Trump embraces new evidence of his power

Trump fully understands power dynamics. McCarthy’s phone call with the ex-president after the audio was released reinstated that his future was in Trump’s hands and reinforced the perception that Trump is the real locus of power in the GOP.

The ex-president savors the public demonstrations of loyalty. It suits him and his zeal for power that McCarthy is portrayed in the media as his puppet and that McCarthy is doing political somersaults to retain Trump’s favor.

So the ex-president told the Wall Street Journal in an interview on Friday that his relationship with McCarthy remained good as the minority leader was quick to push back on his apparent criticisms.

And referring to Republicans, who broadly embraced him after criticizing his role in the Capitol uprising, Trump said, “That’s a big compliment, frankly,” adding, “They realized they were wrong and supported me.”

Democrats seize shadow of Trump

Yet the latest example of Trump’s dominance over the GOP could play into Democratic claims that the former president poses a mortal danger to American democracy.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” on Sunday that McCarthy’s conduct in recent days showed he was a “liar and a traitor.”

“It’s outrageous. And that’s really the sickness that’s permeating Republican leaders right now, that they’re saying one thing to the American public and another thing in private,” Warren said.

Warren: Democrats will lose 2022 midterms if we don't deliver more
But the most serious moment of danger for McCarthy seems to have passed – at least for now – although there are no guarantees when it comes to Trump. The ex-president has a long history of bitterness towards subordinates he once gave in to. He, for example, withdrew his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks’ Senate campaign after the Alabama congressman said it was time to move to the 2020 election.

So McCarthy’s presidential hopefuls — already facing some skepticism from the pro-Trump wing of the GOP — will never be a sure thing until Republicans claim power if they win back the House. in November.

But the California Republican can also count on the strong loyalty of much of the GOP base in the House, thanks in part to his prodigious fundraising.

Some party lawmakers told CNN’s Melanie Zanona, Manu Raju and Lauren Fox in recent days that the leader was not seriously damaged by the episode.

McCarthy has long viewed grassroots support for Trump as the critical factor in winning back the House. Its entire strategy of minimizing the fallout from the January 6 uprising was directed towards this objective.

And a huge GOP victory in November would also bolster McCarthy’s authority and his long-held hopes of becoming president. Political circumstances seem to align with his goal. With each passing month, the fortunes of the Democrats – plagued by high gas prices and runaway inflation – do not improve and McCarthy’s victory scenario becomes even more plausible.

While Trump’s enduring power raises deep questions, the Biden administration’s failure to significantly dampen rising consumer staples prices — even as other parts of the economy roar — offers Republicans with compelling arguments to make to voters.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who toppled a Biden state last fall, has shown that Democratic campaigns rooted in danger from Trump can be neutralized by virulent attacks on expensive grocery bills and perceptions. of a politicized education system.

And while Washington commentators and Democratic lawmakers point to the blatant nature of McCarthy’s lies, the fragmented and hyperpartisan nature of the US media means their concerns won’t move most Republican voters.

Therein lies the essential logic behind McCarthy’s choice: the only outcome of his latest controversy that could jeopardize his hopes of becoming a speaker would be if he ends up drifting further away from Trump.

His path was therefore obvious. And that will likely have huge implications for what Washington will look like in January 2023 and beyond.


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Sara Adm

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