I’ve never been the type of person who would push his grandmother to the ground to get what he wanted. I had confidence in my talents, quality of work, and integrity, and if that didn’t get me to the C-level, then that was fine by me.
In my 35 years in corporate America, however, I saw a few steamrollers, and one stands out. Suddenly, one day this guy appeared in the office who presumably was going to be my new boss. I was shocked since no one told me about it. We went to lunch to get acquainted, and he seemed shady. He boasted about working for Barack Obama. I knew many people who worked for the former president through my close friend Mark, who died way too young of cancer.
Sensing arrogance and deception, I asked this guy if he knew Mark -- in the present tense. “Oh, yeah, he’s a great guy. Great friend,” the bloviator bragged. “Mark died two months ago” was my calm reply. “Oh, yeah, that’s right, what a shame,” he stammered as he quickly tried to change the subject.
I discovered so much more about this fraud, went to HR with my evidence, and they shrugged. I ended up leaving the company, and about a year later he did too, and he left a trail of falsehoods, backstabbing, and treachery behind.The bottom line on this guy was that he was so full of himself, always pretending to the be the smartest guy in the room, when in reality he was just a stupid, empty-headed jerk.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that guy while watching House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stumble, crumble, and bumble this week. Like the guy I worked with, McCarthy metaphorically took his grandmother out at the knees to become speaker, and in a "be careful what you wish for" moment, he's shown himself to be an empty-headed jerk.
Like my former colleague, McCarthy built a house of cards around his fake charm, smile, and friendliness. The charade bared a blatant opportunist and hid unmatched stupidity. People like McCarthy are eventually found out, and when that happens the results can be disastrous. That's what's happening to McCarthy as his ineptitude plays out for all the world to see.
The Republican-controlled House failed this week to even bring up for debate the 2024 defense appropriations bill, and then on Thursday derailed it again. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" — something McCarthy would never utter, of course.
The mess of the House was on display on Wednesday during Merrick Garland's appearance before the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Jim Jordan and his ilk looked like a bunch of petty morons tangling with the intellectually superior Garland – the apples of the rotted members don’t fall far from the imbecilic tree of McCarthy.
More seriously, the dummies of the House are hell-bent on derailing this country with a government shutdown that will likely happen by the end of the month. Dumb is as dumb does.
When your worst enemy is Matt Gaetz, that says a lot about the type of person you are. The incredibly ignorant Gaetz called McCarthy “unhinged” and “reckless.” That’s rich coming from the unhinged and reckless Gaetz. The only thing Gaetz left out was calling McCarthy a moron. Gaetz is too stupid to understand that he has the same moronic attributes as the speaker.
In June of last year, Politico Magazine published an article about the fact that everyone and their grandmother on the Hill knew that McCarthy was stupid. The opinion piece, "Many Reporters Think Kevin McCarthy Is Dumb. Why Can’t They Say So?" was written by senior editor Michael Schaffer and began with a simple question, “Is Kevin McCarthy a great big dummy?”
Schaffer talked to numerous reporters, who all agreed that McCarthy isn’t “the sharpest tool in the shed.” Of course, they all wanted to remain anonymous, but when everyone in the room agrees that they know more than the teacher, then it’s not hard to figure out who said what.
“In a strange way that is hard to explain, he’s gotten more stupid the longer he’s here,” said a longtime Capitol Hill reporter who has watched McCarthy since his early days of palling around with the wonkier likes of Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor.
Schaffer also provided an example, one that will live in infamy. “McCarthy found himself at the center of another baffling foot-in-mouth story: After New York Times political reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns reported in a new book that McCarthy had told fellow Republicans after January 6 that he intended to call on Trump to resign, McCarthy denounced the report as ‘totally false.’ A day later, an audio recording emerged of McCarthy saying just what the pair had reported. ‘Was denying the thing that was on tape dumb?’ asks a reporter who has covered McCarthy. ‘Yeah. And we all said at the time, ‘Man, what an idiot.’”
Only an obtuse idiot would let himself be voted down for speaker 15 times before finally making a deal with the devil that is McCarthy’s sworn enemy, Gaetz, to finally succeed. You just knew at the time of the marathon 15th vote that McCarthy’s speakership would someday soon be doomed. Why? Because part of that deal was allowing just one person in the House (hint: Gaetz) to bring a "motion to vacate," forward to remove the speaker and that motion would need only a simple majority of the House to pass to oust the speaker (hint: McCarthy).
What we have now is this: a House teetering on shutting down the government, zero appropriations bills passed before October 1, the start of the new federal fiscal year, a likely “coup” for the House's top job, overthrowing McCarthy (hint: Gaetz) by filing a motion to remove him. Let's put it this way, with a simple majority, there won't be 15 votes to remove him.
We’ll have a government and a House without a leader. That means there will be no one with credibility or a majority of his caucus — a leader available to negotiate, with the Senate and president, the end of the shutdown on behalf of the House. Every authorization bill will be stagnated by a handful of members who control the chamber while McCarthy seethes. This is one hot stupid mess about to befall us.
Oh, but there’s one bright spot for Republicans: McCarthy said it’s OK for them to pursue an impeachment inquiry against President Biden. Making this a priority over funding the federal government shows McCarthy’s lack of aptitude yet again. Question: Are voters screaming out for Biden to be impeached? No, but a handful of House members are, so McCarthy bends over backward.
This is what happens to a person who has the gall to knock over his grandmother to get what he wants and doesn’t have the intelligence or backbone to hold on to what he connived to get. A leader is someone who earns the respect of his peers — something McCarthy doesn’t have. A leader is someone who has integrity to stand up for what he believes in — McCarthy doesn’t have it — wait a minute, I’m just laughing too hard to continue writing about what McCarthy doesn’t have. Respect? Honesty? Integrity? A spine? Intelligence? Words to a punch line for the joke that is Kevin McCarthy.
In the end, when you have someone in corporate America who tramples their way to the top and is revealed, the reverberations can be felt across departments and teams. When that happens, those departments and teams must pay the price by picking up all the broken pieces left behind.
In this case, with McCarthy, it is the American people who will be the most affected by McCarthy’s arrogance and stupidity. Paychecks for our service members are frozen. Social security checks for our senior citizens may stop if the shutdown lasts more than 30 days. If the nation is unable to pay its bills, America’s credit rating sinks. Our productivity declines. Our reputation abroad looks foolish. And on and on and on.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, “I’ve seen a few of them [government shutdowns] over the years. They never have produced a policy change and they've always been a loser for Republicans politically,” He’s right, but McCarthy doesn’t care about his party or his country. He might stare into the abyss, but McConnell is clearheaded about shutdowns.
If there’s an expert on being speaker, it is Nancy Pelosi, who I sat down with in May. After speaking at length with her, I wrote about her commanding presence. She led the House on marriage equality, the infrastructure bill, the Affordable Care Act, the American Rescue Plan, and the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell," impeached Trump not once but twice, conceived the January 6 committee, and on and on and on. And she did it all with integrity, guts, and fortitude.
And most importantly, she did it with an incredible amount of smarts, and she was elected speaker each time on the first vote. She earned the job and did not have to bash her grandmother on the way up. In others words, she's not a stupid, empty-headed jerk.
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate.
Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.