Clueless Kevin stars in GOP sideshow

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., pauses as he speaks about foreign policy during the John Hay Initiative, Monday, Sept. 28,2015, at a hotel in Washington.
Associated Press / Jacquelyn Martin

So, the ink wasn’t yet dry on what we had to say last week about the alleged speaker-in-waiting, Kevin McCarthy, and GOP stewardship in the House probably becoming even more dysfunctional than under John Boehner, when…along comes McCarthy unloading a mouthful about the sleaze tactics that constitute top-priority strategizing among the party hierarchy.

Presumably much to his chagrin, an apparently not-too-smart McCarthy chose to boast, while in the friendly environment of Fox News, that he and others in the Republican high command had trained their guns on Hillary Clinton and the tiresome Benghazi story, evidently not because they were convinced there was anything that would attach culpability to Clinton, but because it seemed an effective means of wrecking her “unbeatable” status as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. This gang of con artists, in the assumed guise of protectors of the public’s best interests, enthusiastically embraced the idea of wasting serious amounts of taxpayer dollars on “inquiries” that they knew, going in, to be a farce and a Hillary Clinton witch hunt. Does it bother anyone that a GOP majority in the House is supposedly an unavoidable reality for some time yet?

It’s not that we here on the outside weren’t hip to the sick games these GOP charlatans were shamelessly content to play with a serious incident that had occasioned the loss of American lives in Benghazi. Persons even slightly familiar with the goings-on in the aftermath of that consulate attack in 2012 knew that multiple investigations including, outside of government, an independent New York Times probe, had found no evidence of then Secretary of State Clinton conducting herself other than altogether responsibly. Agenda-driven Republicans, intimating to the public that there was a major “Aha!” moment to be exposed somewhere in what went down in Benghazi, insisted on their prolonged “hot seat” treatment for Clinton. Hardly did they suspect, though, that one of their number, a presumptive speaker yet, would blow the lid off their reprehensible stratagem. Behold clueless Kevin, unwittingly the public’s ally against Republican treachery!

The spotlight that has been turned on McCarthy, revealing him to be not very bright, cannot but set lots of us to wondering how is it possible, today, for seats of power in the U.S. to be occupied by folks who so glaringly don’t belong there. What’s absolutely amazing in the case of McCarthy is that, as a congressman and, to boot, one installed in the leadership ranks, why doesn’t he have staff capable of making him not look as much the ninny as he now does. And where does the GOP get off, foisting yet another circus act on the American citizenry as leadership material? The speaker of the House is next in the line of succession to the presidency behind the vice president, for heaven’s sake.

McCarthy’s goof and gaffes should be a bonanza for Democrats who seem ready to play some hard ball, rather than act timid in the face of typical dirty pool by Republicans, as they’re so often prepared to do. The Dems are now talking about releasing testimony given before the select committee on Benghazi that controlling Republicans would rather have kept under wraps. And Democratic demand for the farcical select committee exercise to be terminated now obviously has a lot more muscle and popular support than heretofore.

The hoof-in-mouth bit about Clinton by McCarthy that has had his fellow Republicans seeing red looks to be a boon for Clinton in her drive for the Democratic nomination. McCarthy’s misspeak about the GOP’s Benghazi tactic was the first of two planks of GOP “stopper” strategy regarding Clinton, the other being the omnipresent email non-issue, for which they’ve gone into attack overdrive on the right. We’ll be quite surprised, here, if the second plank of Republicans’ “Stop Hillary” master plan doesn’t suffer the same fate as the first.

Meanwhile, we’re left to ponder the very disturbing prospect of Republicans electing McCarthy House speaker — two heartbeats away from the presidency. Word on the street is that McCarthy is facing what is at best lukewarm challenges to his being anointed Boehner’s successor. And it should give great pause to a concerned electorate that the enormous power and privilege that attends the number one figure on Capitol Hill will apparently come to reside in an absolute misfit.

Not by a long shot was Boehner any great shakes as speaker. His accomplishments in the role, such as they were, will never land him among the memorable names of speakers past. In light of which, one is constrained to wonder if there isn’t something almost sinister at play in a departing Boehner willingly ceding his space to the likes of clueless Kevin McCarthy.

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