Wounded Speaker McCarthy could use a little humility

Ruben Nararrette
Liberal Opinion

Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author
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Over the course of four days and 15 ballots, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., won the race for House speaker. It will take some time to determine whether the concessions, promises and compromises he made will embolden the California Republican or ultimately undermine his efforts to be an effective leader. Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette believes that if McCarthy had more humility, his bumpy road to victory might have awarded him some valuable life lessons. 

Poor Kevin McCarthy.

Apparently when it comes to electing a House speaker from members of your own caucus, mind you, including some ingrate holdouts who you helped put in office by fundraising for them, the 15th ballot is the charm. That’s how long it took over the course of a few days for Republicans to finally weaken the intra-party resistance and scrape up just enough votes to put the California Republican over the top and into the speaker seat.

Only then could the GOP finally get this show on the road – the show being the official Republican pushback against anything and everything coming out of the Biden administration, even those policies that President Biden – “Mr. Moderate” – pilfered from Republicans.

The liberal pro-democratic media was so giddy at the sight of the GOP imploding, and its presumed leader being disemboweled on national television by his own tribe, that it was distracted and didn’t do a very good job of covering the preemptive coup against McCarthy, which was easily one of the biggest political stories of the last 20 years. Republican-hating reporters, anchors and pundits kept parroting the line that the whole GOP-led spectacle was embarrassing and humiliating for McCarthy and the whole Republican Party.

Well, yeah, sure, maybe, but forgive me, I’ve covered politics and politicians for nearly 35 years. I learned a long time ago that elected officials, especially career politicians like McCarthy are not capable of being embarrassed. They’re often beyond shame, beyond humiliation. In fact, as if to illustrate that point, once McCarthy finally ascended to the podium and clutch the gavel, he made a joke about how tumultuous the whole process had been: “Well, that was easy,” he quipped, as members from both parties roared with laughter.

Poor Kevin McCarthy. Apparently when it comes to electing a house speaker for members of your own caucus, mind you, including some engrade holdouts who you helped put in office by fundraising for them. The 15th ballot is the charm. That’s how long it took over the course of a few days for Republicans to finally weaken the intra party resistance and scrape up just enough votes to put the California Republican over the top and into the speaker seat. Only then, could the GOP finally get this show on the road. The show being the official Republican pushback against anything and everything coming out of the Biden administration. Even those policies that President Biden, Mr. Moderate pilfered from Republicans. The liberal pro democratic media was so giddy at the sight of the GOP imploding. And its presumed leader being dissembled on national television by his own tribe, that he was distracted and didn’t do a very good job of covering the pre emptive coup against McCarthy, which was easily one of the biggest political stories of the last 20 years. Republican hating reporters anchors and pundits kept parroting the line that the whole GOP led spectacle was embarrassing and humiliating for McCarthy and the whole Republican Party. Well, yeah, sure, maybe. But forgive me, I’ve covered politics and politicians for nearly 35 years. I learned a long time ago that elected officials, especially career politicians, like McCarthy, are not capable of being embarrassed. They’re often beyond shame beyond humiliation, in fact, as if to illustrate that point, once McCarthy finally ascended to the podium, and clutch the gavel, he made a joke about how tumultuous the whole process had been. Quote, well, that was easy. He equipped as members from both parties roared with laughter. Forget humiliating. What I would hope is that the whole drawn out affair, what we Mexican Americans would call a this monitor or a godforsaken set of circumstances would be enlightening. I would hope that would give McCarthy going forward a better understanding and more empathy. For others who have had to travel a similar path, I’ll be at a much more difficult and treacherous one. Humility is a good thing in politics, but also tends to be a mighty scarce commodity. The fact that he got roughed up a little should make this an epiphany moment for McCarthy. I would hope that from this point on going forward, he sees things more clearly, and maybe even develops a new appreciation for the underdog, and anyone who struggles against adversity. After all, America isn’t for the perfect, or the flawless, or the undefeated. America is for those who can take a punch, fall to the mat, and then pull themselves back to their feet and engage the battle once more. This is the country of comebacks, and second chances and bloody noses. Mr. Speaker, imagine wanting something so bad that you work and sacrifice for years to get it. And then you meet up with resistance from people who don’t really know you are know what’s in your heart, but they assume the worst, and they won’t give you the benefit of the doubt. Imagine knowing that you could make a substantial contribution. If only you could get through the front door and pass the people who seem determined to keep you out, sometimes just out of spite because they can imagine being the leader of a political party that gets along by stopping others from getting ahead, a party that trades in fear and prejudice and ignorance and intolerance. Imagine that you and the rest of your party are trying to keep out people who wants something that they feel they’ve earned just as much as you felt you had earned the speaker’s gavel and that you’re being an obstructionist for many reasons. Mr. Speaker, the refugees of the world, especially those who are now huddled at the US Mexico border would like a word


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