Rep. Kevin McCarthy, for being deposed before taking the throne
By Chris Cillizza
Fortunes can change so quickly in Washington. Two weeks ago, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) shocked the political world by announcing that he would resign as House speaker. Into the GOP leadership void stepped Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a genial Californian who, despite having been elected only in 2006, looked like he would go unchallenged for the top spot.
Then came his interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, in which McCarthy said a special committee formed to investigate the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya — and thensecretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in the response — was primarily responsible for Clinton’s declining poll numbers in the Democratic presidential race.
Clinton immediately seized on McCarthy’s comments, insisting that they proved, finally, that Republicans were seeking to politicize the deaths of four Americans.
Things only got worse from there. A letter circulated by Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) this past week asking House leadership candidates to confess any “misdeeds” in their personal lives led to rampant rumor-mongering about potential skeletons in McCarthy’s closet. And on Wednesday, the day before the GOP conference was to vote for speaker, the House Freedom Caucus, the hardest of hard-core conservatives, endorsed long-shot Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) over McCarthy.
By the time his colleagues gathered Thursday morning, McCarthy was reeling, finding himself well short of a majority of support. Still, no one expected that he would remove himself from the race entirely — dashing the ambitions that he seemed so close to realizing just a fortnight ago.
Kevin McCarthy, for watching your career flash before your eyes, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.