Commentary: The Matt Gaetz Fight

by Daniel J. Flynn


Matt Gaetz did with seven other votes what Kevin McCarthy could not do with more than half of the House chamber. He imposed his will.

The general commanding a majority of the troops on the field capitulated to Democrats to keep the federal leviathan, nay, the federal Cthulhu swinging its tentacles and snapping its claws. The general with fewer troops behind him imposed the change he desired, meaning he deposed the speaker he characterized as a liar.

“Chaos is Speaker McCarthy,” Gaetz proclaimed from the floor Tuesday. “Chaos is somebody we cannot trust with their words.”

But McCarthy was not so much a sneak as he was weak. He did not bang the gavel. He tapped it. So, Gaetz and company snatched that gavel from his hands. Weakness inspires powerplays of this sort.

Spending bills emanate in the House of Representatives. Rather than reverse the multidecade trend that led to budgets exceeding $6 trillion, McCarthy twice partnered with Democrats to prevent a government shutdown and protect the other party’s spending priorities. Why did he not get something when he gave something? He either did not understand his power, i.e., the power to stop anything or even everything from receiving a dime, or he did not wish to wield it in the interests of limited, constitutional government.

Gaetz rightly ridiculed the hollow “concessions” Republicans received from Democrats in exchange for averting shutdowns. In May, for instance, McCarthy boasted of obtaining support for permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline from the administration. The previous year, the administration conceded that very point to gain votes for the Inflation Reduction Act. In other words, McCarthy hoodwinked conservatives into believing they received something that they had already been promised the previous year. Gaetz correctly noted that the so-called work requirements received in May’s deal came at the cost of expanding the pool eligible for welfare, which, as this space pointed out in the spring, made such programs more expensive, not less. McCarthy in this instance gave Democrats what they wanted in exchange for giving Democrats what they wanted.

This past weekend, as in the spring, McCarthy feared angering the opposition more than he did his party’s right-wing. He took conservatives for granted.

And since the results of big-government policies — 9 percent inflation last year and a $33 trillion deficit crippling future generations — could not shake McCarthy by the lapels to obstruct big government, the Gaetz Eight decided to defenestrate him by the lapels.

Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Tim Burchett (Tenn.), Eli Crane (Ariz.), Bob Good (Va.), Nancy Mace (S.C.), and Matt Rosendale (Mont.) joined Gaetz, and a Democratic caucus ignorant of the phrase “be careful what you wish for,” to vacate the speakership. Even Madame Cleo might stumble over a prediction for the aftermath of an unprecedented event in American history. But it seems more likely than not that spending bills stall as the House takes its time to pick a new speaker, more likely than not that the House gets a more conservative speaker than McCarthy, and more likely than not that Republican leadership thinks twice about making one-sided deals again with the Democrats on spending.

The right-wing, the same force that turned on McCarthy’s Young Guns co-author Paul Ryan by sending him into early retirement and his other Young Guns co-author Eric Cantor by primarying him into the private sector, knocked McCarthy from his high chair for similar reasons. For Republicans occupying leadership positions in the future, the lesson act like Cantor at the risk of being Cantored seems like one to heed.

In 2010, when that Ryan-Cantor-McCarthy book came out, those “young guns” presented themselves as the new Republican House leadership, so different from the stale, old Republican leadership. The national debt has added more than $20 trillion since then, and the federal budget has exploded from about $3.5 trillion to about $6.5 trillion.

Why, again, do Republicans commit treason against their party when they ditch their leaders instead of their principles and remain patriots to their cause when they ditch their principles but support their leaders?

The logic that leads there also inspires calling slowed rates of increases “cuts,” tax cuts “subsidies,” and federal boondoggles “investments.” Up is down. Black is white. Left is right. And a $33 trillion deficit does not exist.

– – –

Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website,
Photo “Matt Gaetz” by Matt Gaetz. Photo “Kevin McCarthy” by Kevin McCarthy.




Appeared at and reprinted from The American Spectator

Related posts