Split: McCarthy will oppose impeachment -- but Liz Cheney may vote yes

Kevin McCarthy should thank God that Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley exist because their personal obnoxiousness has acted as a lightning rod this week drawing away criticism from McCarthy himself. No one has been more of a rodent about the coup attempt in Congress than the House minority leader. The only reason Cruz and Hawley were able to force two hours of floor debate on different states’ election results is because McCarthy’s caucus is a runaway train of obsequious Trump loyalism, composed of people who were all but climbing over each other to distinguish themselves as the proudest coup supporters. Some of them are MAGAfied zombies, others are just cowards who are afraid to get on the wrong side of the president; either way, McCarthy “led” them into a situation where they egged on a big lie that led to their own workplace being attacked by terrorists, then returned to the House floor after the building was cleared and still tried to block the certification of Biden’s victory by objecting en masse.

One of the worst failures of political leadership in my lifetime. He should quit politics over it and spend the rest of his life reflecting on what he can do to atone. Instead, in all probability, he’ll be Speaker of the House in 2023, a grotesque reward even by the standards of an era in which grotesque behavior is routinely rewarded.

This is cartoonish villainy:

“Maybe.” Trump went skipping merrily down that road and McCarthy skipped right behind him. Resign.

He won’t resign, though. The most he’ll do is ask his caucus for ideas on how to make a feeble gesture of opposition because a meaningful gesture, like impeaching him, is certainly out of the question.

“We need to get America back on a path towards unity and civility.” For two months, he and the rest of his caucus either amplified Trump’s insanity about vote-rigging or sat quietly by and said nothing. They didn’t care about unity when Trump trotted out Sidney Powell to spout conspiracy theories about Dominion, they didn’t care about it when he started twisting state legislators’ arms to overturn their elections, they didn’t care about it when he demagogued Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger to oblivion, they didn’t care about it when Texas filed a lawsuit against several swing states that would have ended this country as we know it if it had prevailed. In fact, most members of McCarthy’s caucus joined the Texas lawsuit. All of this was in service to a half-assed coup attempt engineered by an egomaniac who couldn’t tolerate being seen as a loser, which is the most uncivil, disunifying thing I can think of in a democracy.

His caucus enabled it at every turn. Some of them may have even enabled the attack on the Capitol itself.

The House GOP caucus has become the most disgraceful, irresponsible entity in major electoral politics. McCarthy whimpering about unity after a cop was murdered because some people can’t let go of Trump’s narcissistic fantasies is the icing on the cake. He should quit.

And if the caucus has any interest in rebuilding its reputation — which it probably doesn’t, since mindless Trump sycophancy is the key to holding a seat in a red district — there’s an obvious replacement available:

We’ll see what Cheney does. She’s been outspoken in the last few days about how disgusting the attack was, but asking her to support a Pelosi initiative to remove a sitting Republican president is asking a lot. In theory, voting yes could be good for her politically: Having someone at the top of the caucus who showed courage in punishing Trump would be a cheap and easy way for the rest of the House GOP to launder its own complicity in Trump’s coup effort. Whenever they’re called to account for it in the future, they could say, “Liz Cheney voted for impeachment and we made her Speaker, didn’t we?” Besides, Trump already hates her. She’s not going to earn any MAGA brownie points by wimping out on impeachment now.

Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do would be a nice break with recent precedent for this caucus. Cheney could set the example. If she doesn’t, we’ll be left to wonder: Is it because she fears losing her job? Or is it because she fears losing her life? New GOP Rep. Peter Meijer, who replaced Justin Amash in Congress, dropped this detail in a new interview with Reason:

And then one of the saddest things is I had colleagues who, when it came time to recognize reality and vote to certify Arizona and Pennsylvania in the Electoral College, they knew in their heart of hearts that they should’ve voted to certify, but some had legitimate concerns about the safety of their families. They felt that that vote would put their families in danger.

It isn’t Antifa whom they’re afraid of. It’s the same crazed MAGA nuts who stormed the Capitol, some of whom have now proved their willingness to kill to show their cultish devotion to the leader and will almost certainly do so again before this miserable era ends. On a human level, I have sympathy for the House Republicans who fear for their families. But prominent Democrats like Pelosi and AOC have at least as much to fear as they do and they’re willing to proceed here. Beyond that, if a legislator’s willing to let themselves be coerced by terrorists into voting for something pernicious, they shouldn’t be in Congress. They should resign and take themselves off the radar. Imagine a politician admitting that they opposed some sort of military action against ISIS because they’re afraid of jihadis hunting them down. That’s unthinkable, but according to Meijer, that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night in the House after domestic terrorists sacked the Capitol.

By the way, to give you a sense of the sort of political pressure McCarthy’s caucus is facing, note that two polls out today show Trump’s job approval declining after the attack — but not by a ton. Quinnipiac has him at 33 percent, Morning Consult has him at 37. Those numbers are both very bad, but a third of the country is hanging with him even after a riot at the Capitol that he incited to try to disrupt the certification of his opponent’s victory and which even Republicans like Chris Christie and Pat Toomey admit is an impeachable offense. In the average Republican district, Trump’s approval might be on the order of 75 percent or better, even now. So they’re going to be asked once again on impeachment to choose between doing what’s right and doing what’s good for their careers, and guess which they’ll choose. Hint: It’s the same choice that led to Mike Pence and Pelosi nearly being lynched in the Capitol five days ago.

I’ll leave you with this. Not for a minute do I believe it’s true, just something McCarthy made up so that House Republicans can say, “See? He’s sorry. Let bygones be bygones.” Exit quotation from the Journal, interviewing Lindsey Graham: “He declined to say whether the president appeared remorseful for last week’s events: ‘I don’t want to get into this stuff about psychoanalyzing anybody.'”