Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect reflects on the Republican debacle of the past few days. Kevin McCarthy wants desperately to be Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. He needs a majority of all members present. But he can’t get a majority because 20 members of the far-right “Freedom Caucus” oppose him. He has conceded to all of their demands for power. Yet after nine ballots, they still oppose him. They want to impeach Biden. They want to impeach cabinet members. They want to humiliate Dr. Anthony Fauci. They are the Chaos Caucus, the party of No. They don’t know how to govern. They are obstructionists.

Harold Meyerson wrote today:

Meyerson on TAP

The Revolution Eats Its Own

Like the Jacobins and Stalinists of yore, today’s Republicans have extirpated their moderates and have no one left to execute besides themselves.

Time was when the conservative credo was “That government is best which governs least.” If that needed quantitative metrics, Grover Norquist came along to say that government should be small enough that “it can be drowned in a bathtub.”

But that was oh, so then. Today’s Republicans repudiate those nostrums as way too statist. What they’re making ridiculously clear (and just plain ridiculous) on the floor of the House this week is that their new credo is “That government is best which cannot even convene.”

The process of revolutions growing more radical by bumping off every previous revolutionary cadre is well established. In revolutionary France, the Girondins supplanted the royalists, the Montagnards supplanted and executed the Girondins, the Jacobins supplanted and executed the Montagnards, and having run out of rival factions, the Jacobins executed each other. In revolutionary Russia, the Leninists overthrew and executed the czarists, the Stalinists overthrew and executed the Leninists. And having run out of Leninists, the Stalinists executed each other.

Today’s Republicans seem to have reached that final phase this week, the supplanting and political execution of each other. Here’s a quote from a speech preceding the eighth ballot for Speaker, in which a Republican described the candidate he was nominating:

“He’s not Paul Ryan! He’s not Mitch McConnell! He’s not John Boehner! He’s different!”

That was not, however, from a speech nominating the Gang of 20’s oppositionist de jour. It was the nominating speech for the hapless Kevin McCarthy, who apparently still clings to the forlorn hope that he can win the Speakership by repudiating every Republican leader and tenet to the left of Matt Gaetz and the Proud Boys.

To be sure, that’s a strategy that didn’t play all that well at the polls last November. Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake made clear that she didn’t want the votes of Republicans who’d supported that squishy John McCain. In that, she succeeded, which was a major reason why she lost. But today’s Republicans are undaunted by anything so ephemeral as electoral results.

Even in comparison with the first two days of McCarthy’s public humiliation, today has been particularly cruel. The news this morning was full of reports that a team from McCarthy’s opposition had spent the night bargaining with McCarthy’s minions and came away with every concession under the sun. McCarthy agreed that a single member of the Republican caucus could call for ousting the Speaker and that would be all that was required to force a vote. McCarthy’s PAC cut a deal with the Club for Growth that it would no longer intervene in open-seat primaries. Hope sprung yet again among the Kevinoids that these concessions would bring perhaps 10 of the 20 malcontents into Kevin’s camp. In fact, however, through today’s seventh and eighth ballots, precisely none of those 20 dissidents, including those in last night’s meetings, came into Kevin’s column. McCarthy’s vote total remained stuck at 201.

There are some reports that the Gang of 20’s negotiators want the agreements in writing. To get his total up to the required 218, however, I suspect McCarthy will have to go beyond that, promising committee chairmanships and seats on the Koch Brothers board of directors to every one of the 20, and that he’ll have to sign this promissory note in his own blood. And a small cut on the finger won’t suffice.

~ HAROLD MEYERSON