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Kevin McCarthy, Fetch

He now says he didn’t try to overturn the 2020 election. He’s a good boy! He’ll submit and play nice for belly rubs.
March 19, 2021
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(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Some dog lovers believe that what makes their canine companions wonderful is their ability to “live in the moment”—meaning that, although they can be trained and obedient, and can learn to recognize and remember things they love and things they fear, they don’t have distinct memories of the past, let alone an ability to plan for the future. These dogs—or so the thinking goes—love their owners unconditionally. And they just want to submit and play nice for belly rubs and treats.

That description isn’t true for all dogs. But it definitely applies to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was once described by Julie Hirschfeld Davis as a “golden retriever of a man who hates to be by himself.”

Because it doesn’t seem to matter to McCarthy how terribly someone such as former President Trump may have treated him in the past. If there’s a political treat to be had, McCarthy is gonna roll over and do tricks. No matter how stupid he looks and sounds.

Which brings us to his press conference at the Capitol on Thursday.

At issue is a longshot appeal to Congress by Iowa Democrat Rita Hart to overturn Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks’s six-vote victory, which was certified by Iowa state officials in November. McCarthy opposes this.

Fine—there is good reason to oppose Hart’s attempt to overturn the election. McCarthy’s opposition to Hart’s effort, however, raises an obvious question that would have been awkward for McCarthy if he had memory better than a golden retriever’s: What makes Hart’s effort to overturn her electoral defeat different from the Trump-led effort, which McCarthy prominently supported, to overturn his electoral defeat?

When CNN’s Manu Raju asked this inevitable question, McCarthy acted like he hadn’t tried to overturn the 2020 election at all.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Two days after Election Day, McCarthy went on Fox News and declared, “President Trump won this election, so everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet,” he said. “We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.”
  • Even after the Electoral College met to ratify Biden’s election in December, McCarthy refused to call Biden “president-elect.”
  • McCarthy was one of the 126 House Republicans who supported Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit to cancel votes in swing states Biden won.
  • On January 6, even after the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, McCarthy supported objections to Biden’s wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

McCarthy would now like everyone to forget all that. He’s put it all out of his mind.

McCarthy told Raju he was “just asking the question” about the results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Because the United States Congress on January 6 is, supposedly, the right place and time to “ask questions.” Then, when he was asked specifically about his support for the doomed Supreme Court lawsuit. He said, “That’s where you go, to the courts” to settle election disputes.

But wait! you say. Didn’t Trump go to the courts, and lose, something like sixty times? Wasn’t the Supreme Court lawsuit that McCarthy supported to cancel votes DOA? And, didn’t McCarthy still think it was fine to “just ask questions” in Congress, even after an insurrection was mounted based on those same dumbass questions that were asked and rejected in courts dozens and dozens of times?

Yes, yes, all these things are true. And none of that matters to the most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives. Not one bit!

All that matters now, right now, is that many corporations are thinking about withholding donations from wannabe GOP vote cancelers. Which is bad, bad, bad, for House Republican prospects in 2022. So, for McCarthy, poof, he was never part of any efforts to cancel votes.

Don’t try to make logical sense of McCarthy’s answers. It’s all barking and keening for the benefit of journalists’ tape recorders. Credibility and consistency don’t matter to the House Republican leader; the best thing you can say about him is that he lives in the moment. Who really knows what will come tomorrow—or even an hour from now?

Maybe he’ll be sorting through bags of Starbursts to pick out only the colors that Trump likes—pink and red—to place in a special jar and ferry to Trump. Gone is any memory of the expletive-filled shouting match he had with Trump the day of the insurrection. Ol buddy, ol’ pal Kevin didn’t really mean it when he said Trump bore responsibility for the attacks that day. Because he quickly decided “we all” do, and flew down to Florida to make nice with Trump. He had to say sorry to his hooman. Why? Because McCarthy needs Trump’s help in 2022.

See, McCarthy is a good boy. He’ll play fetch. For whoever can give him a treat at any particular moment in time. Trump, donors—whoever. Just throw him a bone.

Woof.

Amanda Carpenter

Bulwark political columnist Amanda Carpenter is a CNN contributor, author, and former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz and speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint.