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Friday, April 01, 2022

Opinion: That’s no party. That’s the Republican Hot Mess.

Opinion | That's no party, it's the Republican Hot Mess - The Washington Post

“At this point, the Republican Party really ought to change its name. It’s not a coherent political party anymore. To comply with truth-in-advertising standards, it should call itself the Republican Hot Mess.

And yes, this is an election year, and the Hot Mess could take control of one or even both houses of Congress. At a time of overlapping crises at home and abroad, that is a gamble the nation should not take — and an outcome Democrats and independents must do everything in their power to prevent.

Most endangered is the Democrats’ slim majority in the House, where Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — desperate to move into the expansive office suite occupied by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — is spending much of his time dealing with a loony-bin caucus that seems determined to embarrass the party leadership.

The member of his ranks currently giving McCarthy the biggest migraine is Rep. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), who recently said on a podcast that, since taking office, he has encountered “sexual perversion,” including an invitation to “come to an orgy,” and has seen individuals who publicly stand against illegal drugs “do a key bump of cocaine right in front of you.”

Cawthorn, 26, said he was shocked by all of this, “being kind of a young guy in Washington, where the average age is probably 60 or 70.” He added: “I look at all these people, a lot of them that I’ve looked up to through my life — I’ve always paid attention to politics — then all of a sudden you get invited.” The clear implication is that these unnamed hedonists are colleagues of his in Congress.

Fearful of losing support in his quest for the speaker’s gavel, McCarthy has been loath to punish or even meaningfully rebuke Cawthorn’s fellow loony-bin residents such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.), who both spoke recently at a conference organized by an avowed white nationalist. But Cawthorn’s allegations were so beyond the pale that McCarthy finally called him in and dressed him down. He told reporters later that Cawthorn “did not tell the truth,” that there was “no evidence” to support his claims and that his words were “unacceptable.”

Does this mean the GOP is beginning to come back to its senses? Not really. McCarthy has said that Greene and Gosar, both of whom have been stripped of their committee assignments by the Democratic majority, will be placed on committees again if Republicans take control. McCarthy also tiptoes around the antics of such clowns as Rep. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), who called a fellow member of Congress “the Jihad Squad,” and Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), who is under investigation for alleged sex trafficking. The inmates are running the asylum.

Over in the Senate, where Democrats need Vice President Harris’s tiebreaking vote to have a majority, we saw last week the disgraceful way Republican senators handled their questioning of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) tried unfairly to paint Jackson as lenient on child pornographers. Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) asked whether she believed babies are racist. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) pressed her to define the word “woman.” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) angrily sought to hold her responsible for the way Democratic senators have treated Republican nominees in the past.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has said Senate Republicans will not produce a legislative agenda ahead of the midterm elections, apparently believing it is dangerous to let voters know exactly what they might be voting for. On the other side of the Capitol, however, McCarthy is working on a “Commitment to America” set of proposals.

I agree that some members of McCarthy’s caucus need to be committed, but not in the way he means.

Looming over the whole Hot Mess, of course, is former president Donald Trump. From his Elba at Mar-a-Lago, Trump has been trying to boost the prospects of incumbents and challengers who support his “big lie” about the “stolen” election — and to end the careers of Republicans, such as Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who stand for the party’s traditional values.

Trump recently pulled his endorsement from Rep. Mo Brooks (Ala.), who is seeking a Senate seat, because Brooks — who went so far as to give a fiery speech at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally — has said it is time to move on from the 2020 election. How far out on the fringe do you have to be to get and keep Trump’s support?

By making every race all about himself, Trump could be his (putative) party’s worst enemy. It would be beyond ironic if Democrats held on to their majorities thanks to his whims and grudges.“

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