“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his leadership position in a historic vote on Tuesday after a far-right revolt over his reliance on Democrats to pass funding to avert a government shutdown.” — CBS News
When I was elected Speaker of the House, the smarmy media class and the Democrats were delighted to point out just how convoluted and drawn out the process was. They laughed at how I bent and twisted myself to gain the favor of a base that didn’t trust me. They couldn’t help themselves from making snide comments when it took fifteen rounds of votes for me to finally attain the Speaker’s gavel. Well, guess who’s laughing now? I may have completely debased myself to become Speaker, but at least I didn’t accomplish anything.
Tip O’Neill. Sam Rayburn. Hell, even my predecessor, Nancy Pelosi. When historians are asked to rank the most effective Speakers of the House in American history, these are some of the names that come up. And while I may have writhed and wriggled my way around the House floor, desperately agreeing to any scheme and machination my most insane colleagues dreamed up in a mad bid to become Speaker, it’s unlikely that future historians will include old Kevin McCarthy’s name on that list. On account of how, once I became Speaker, I couldn’t make anything significant happen.
It would be a shame if the people writing my political obituary were to focus only on the embarrassing, bush-league circumstances of my rise to the Speakership. Sure, I felt increasingly despondent through the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth rounds of votes in the House. Sure, it was pretty humiliating to have my colleagues publicly reject me so many times in a row. But the pundits who focus merely on my ignominious rise will miss the real story: after becoming Speaker, I really wasn’t able to get much done in the way of, you know, effectively shepherding bills into laws that would help the American people.
Look, I’d love it if a simple Google search of “Kevin McCarthy 15” yielded a list of my fifteen most important legislative accomplishments. Right about now, I would have hoped to hear the left’s caterwauling about the lasting impact of my tax cuts, or the McCarthy reforms of entitlement programs, or my effective political sparring with President Biden. But nope. That Google search still just talks about the excruciating, face-reddening series of events that took me to the leadership of the House, a post where, I must remind people, I achieved nothing of consequence.
So go ahead, America. Get your laughs in. Mock a guy who entered the House of Representatives in 2007, yet couldn’t build the relationships or earn the respect necessary to be elected Speaker on the first through fourteenth votes. Make your wisecracks about my damned-from-the-start reign as the most powerful House Republican. But when you do, I hope you remember one thing: I may have capitulated to the chamber’s loons during my reputation-destroying ascent, but once I got there, I buckled down, accomplished almost nothing, and left no lasting legacy.