It’s not us. It’s YOU.
In what may be the most misleading narrative not originating with a leftist source about House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s recent trials National Review Editor-in-Chief Rich Lowry argues the Republicans’ “Fight Reveals the Party of Self-Loathing.” Although this diatribe may please some of Lowry’s sponsors, it bears no connection to what went on in the House last week.
The fact that the GOP revealed disunity does not in any way prove that “it is a party that to some significant extent loathes itself.” There is no reason to assume this even if “the GOP lacks any coherent center of authority” and even if the “Democrats look like a well-oiled machine.” There is no basis for saying “self-loathing” led to the “Revolt of the 20.” Nor was this noisy disunity something that the obsessive NeverTrumper editor could plausibly pin on Donald Trump, who unequivocally supported McCarthy in his bid for the speakership. Lowry wishes us to believe that Trump’s “counter-establishment” and the “midterm debacle” that he supposedly caused, segued into this further sign of self-loathing disunity.
Despite the defiance of those conservatives who bolted from the party regulars, Lowry finds a bright spot in the GOP. There is after all the stalwart, principled figure of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), “who is the closest thing there is to the ballast of an establishment.” Unfortunately, this wise moderate can’t prevail. He is “hated by the MAGA base,” which may be Trump’s continued revenge on the GOP elders who reject his demagoguery. If I read Lowry properly, a saner Republican Party would turn thankfully to McConnell, not The Donald, and this fount of mature wisdom would warn them against their “act of defiance unburdened by a substantive agenda or a different candidate.”
What may have been driving the holdouts, beside their perception that McCarthy is not particularly conservative, are recent unsettling events. Let’s start with the omnibus bill, passed in December, which provides very little for border protection and lots of inflated money for green energy and woke indoctrination. This bill contained 4,155 densely typed pages, and Congress was required to vote on the text, before any human being could possibly have read it through. Why did McConnell cosponsor this highly partisan Democratic bill? Why did he and nine congressional Republicans tie the hands of the incoming Republican majority in budgetary matters until next fall? And why was McConnell recently on a tour with Joe Biden talking up a bloated infrastructure bill that was passed with the votes of other Republican defectors? McConnell couldn’t stop telling Biden about his intention of “working together” throughout that one-sided lovefest.
If we wish to talk about “self-loathing,” it would be more appropriate to address the obvious contempt in which McConnell, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and other “moderate” Republican politicians hold their conservative base. Unlike our political elites, this base has no interest in being invited to fashionable cocktail parties and doesn’t give a rip about what the Washington Post says about their insensitivity. These populist voters think very differently from Rich and Mitch.
Indeed they do. In the immortal words of the almighty Rudyard Kipling, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet. Which is exactly how it should be.