Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A New McCarthyism

We all knew them growing up - the kid who would do anything to curry favour with the teacher, the one we knew variously as 'the brown-noser,' the 'suck-up' or by any number of similarly unflattering terms. This kid did it, presumably, to curry favour, to gain some kind of imagined classroom status that his or her fevered mind craved.

Unfortunately, some kids never grow up.

In the above photo, the one on the left of the toddler-in-chief is Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House Majority Leader. He apparently learned his lessons well in boyhood. The following, I think, suggests the fulll measure of the boy-man:
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy were alone in the presidential suite on Air Force One, flying east toward Washington in early October, when the president reached for a handful of Starbursts, the fruit-flavored, box-shaped chewy candies.

But instead of unwrapping all of the treats, the president was careful to pluck out and eat two particular flavours: cherry and strawberry, McCarthy noticed.

“We’re there, having a little dessert, and he offers me some,” McCarthy recalled in an interview. “Just the red and the pink. A bit later, a couple of his aides saw me with those colours and told me, ‘Those are the president’s favourites.’ ”

Days later, the No. 2 Republican in the House — known for his relentless cultivation of political alliances — bought a plentiful supply of Starbursts and asked a staffer to sort through the pile, placing only those two flavours in a jar. McCarthy made sure his name was on the side of the gift, which was delivered to a grinning Trump, according to a White House official.
While the motivation for such obsequious behaviour would be obvious to normal people, Trump is, both literally and figuratively, eating it up:
Trump has showcased the relationship and appears to enjoy the fidelity of a high-ranking GOP leader. Before having dinner together Sunday at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., Trump took questions from reporters under the club portico’s ornate arches, with McCarthy standing beside him.
McCarthy seems to understand Trump's severe limitations:
While at Camp David earlier this month, McCarthy took up the task of explaining the obstacles facing Republicans ahead of the midterm elections in November, walking through the financial hurdles and bleak prospects in various races.

According to two people familiar with the presentation, Trump appreciated McCarthy’s use of pictures and charts rather than a memo.
So why is this at all important, other than as an illustration of gross sycophancy and political pandering?
Critics of McCarthy privately grouse that he is an operator who is most concerned with improving his standing in the House by aligning himself with the Republican base’s standard-bearer. There are worries, too, that McCarthy’s ingratiation could enable Trump rather than contain him.

“I don’t think being a Trump sycophant is going to do much in the long run for the party or holding the majority,” said Republican consultant Mike Murphy. “It doesn’t change Trump’s behaviour, which is imperiling the party, and we’re getting to a place where challenging him is an imperative.”
The Republican Party has been in a downward spiral for quite some time. With standard bearers like Kevin McCarthy, it is not difficult to understand why.


  1. At a time when the world needs an America firing on all cylinders we get Trump and the Congressional Republicans. It redefines dysfunction with its childishness. There is an infantile mentality loose among the GOP and a number of Democrats to boot.

    1. There is little doubt in my, and I am sure many other minds, that U.S. politics is broken, Mound.

  2. Really, he gave the President a jar of Candy and he uses charts and that is what you call gross sycophancy?

    That pretty weak sauce, I don't like Trump either, but like set our critisms higher for both Trump and McCarthy then petty stuff.

    Like the massive tax cuts or his poor handling of healthcare, or blowing up a Syrian base before an investigation into chemical attacks could be conducted, etc...

    1. Gyor, I think it speaks to Trump's inability to process much written material, and as such, I believe it is quite germane to the question of enabling his inompetency.

  3. Digby notes:

    This is a much more important issue. It's a matter of stopping an unfit, unqualified rogue president who is putting the whole planet in danger. These two Republicans wouldn't have to become Democrats. They could just become Independents and vote for Chuck Schumer for majority leader which would allow real oversight investigations and hearings.

    So far, there are none among them willing to do it. In fact we see more and more of them falling in line with Trump"


    On McCarthy:

    "Setting aside the neologism, McCarthy effectively admitted that the endless Benghazi investigations were political. Not that everyone didn't know that already, but you can't have the prospective speaker of the House admitting that he is persecuting a rival for political gain. It's a bad look, and it cost McCarthy the job.

    More recently, McCarthy was reported to have made a stunning gaffe in June of 2016, telling a group of fellow congressmen: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump." The first name mentioned refers to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a fellow California Republican who is known to be a vocal Putin apologist."


    1. Thanks, Jay, for these very useful links.

    2. Yablinsky has recently noted, quoting Engles, that Conservatism is not a philosophy, but instead, a reaction.


    3. Thanks, Jay. I shall check out the post.