Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kevin McCarthy: Least Experienced Speaker in 100 years?

Kevin McCarthy would be the least experienced Speaker of the House since 1891, says Philip Bump in the Washington Post. McCarthy (b. 1/26/65) has been in Congress just eight years and it shows.

McCarthy was born in Bakersfield CA and is a fourth generation native of Kern County. He obtained a B.S. in marketing from the local college (Cal State Bakersfield) in 1989, and an M.B.A. from the same college in 1994.

His parents were Democrats, but McCarthy set his sights to rise in the Republican party. It's where the action's at in Bakersfield. In 1995 he became chairman of the California Young Republicans. According to Wiki, California Young Republicans is open to registered members of the Republican party between the ages of 18 and 40.  Local chapters have strong independence; they sponsor various social events and networking events and assist Republican political candidates and causes.

McCarthy made the most of his CAYR chairmanship. In 1999 he was elected chairman of the Young Republican National federation. He's been a sterling Republican team player. At the same time, in the late 1990's until 2000, he also acted as a district director for House of Representative Member Bill Thomas (R-CA).

McCarthy was elected as Kern County Community College District trustee in 2000, and elected to the California State Assembly in 2002. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 and has been substantially unopposed in his district since.

McCarthy, in short, has been a professional politician, a striver who has gained success in an extremely narrow bubble of Republican politics during the last 20 years.  He lacks any meaningful life experience outside of this Republican political bubble.

McCarthy has been a protege of John Boehner.  In 2008 Boehner appointed him to chair of the Republican platform committee.  "The Republican Party is the party of opportunity," says the preamble to the final 2012 Republican platform. And so it has been for Kevin McCarthy.

Here are some notable items in the 2008 Republican platform overseen by McCarthy:
  • "[T]he achieving of peace — should never be micromanaged in a party platform, or on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives for that matter."  What happened, we might ask, to this principle during the recent Iran treaty negotiation?
  • "The gravest threat we face — nuclear terrorism — demands a comprehensive strategy for reducing the world's nuclear stockpiles and preventing proliferation." One might ask today, isn't that what the Iran deal was about? 
  • "Returning veterans must have access to education benefits, job training, and a wide variety of employment options."  We might ask, what have Republicans done to advance education benefits, job training, and employment options for veterans in the past seven years? See Daily Kos report (2013) on actual Republican actions. 
  • "To be successful international leaders, we must uphold international law, including the laws of war, and update them when necessary." We might ask, how did the Bush administration uphold these values in invading Iraq in violation of international law, killing more than 160,000 civilians in an illegal war? 
  • "Our success in Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven, limit Iranian influence in the Middle East, strengthen moderate forces there, and give us a strategic ally in the struggle against extremism." What success, we might ask. Is it not our illegal war in Iraq that has directly lead to the rise of ISIS?  
  • "Short-term politics overshadow the long-term interests of the nation." We might ask, what has the Republican party done in the last seven years to improve that situation? Res Ipsa Loquitor.
  • "We pledge a business-like, cost-effective approach for infrastructure spending, always mindful of the special needs of both rural and urban communities." We might ask what have Republicans done to put the Highway Trust fund on a business-like, cost effective basis? What have Republicans done in the past seven years to fund infrastructure, let alone to fund it in a business-like cost effective manner?
  • "We believe government should tax only to raise money for its essential functions." Right: no progressive taxation to redistribute income or to fund "non-essential" things like parks, free higher education, etc.
  • "We believe that real reform is about improving your access to a health care provider, your control over care, and your ability to afford that care. We will continue to advocate for simplification of the system and the empowerment of patients." We might ask, what have Republicans done to promote patient control over care, or to make care more affordable for individuals in the last seven years?
  • "To empower families, we must make insurance more affordable and more secure, and give employees the option of owning coverage that is not tied to their job." We might ask, has Obamacare not given employees the option of owning coverage not tied to their job?
  • "Individuals with pre-existing conditions must be protected."  We might ask, is this not what Obamacare has accomplished? 
Inexperienced and emerging from a Republican political bubble may account for McCarthy's gaffe to Sean Hannity on Fox last night. Inexperience and living in a Republican bubble is what leads someone to say to Sean Hannity on FOX the following: 
McCarthy:  The question I think you want to ask me is "How am I going to be different (than Boehner)? ... What you're going to see is a conservative Speaker, it takes a conservative Congress, it puts (sic) a strategy to fight and win. And let me give you one example.  Everyone thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustworthy, but noone would have know any of that had happened had we not fought and (inaudible). 
The first give away here, the part that Democrats have jumped all over, is that McCarthy is defending his leadership as "strategic" because he and the Republican leadership instigated the Benghazi investigation in order to take down Hillary Clinton in the polls.  That sounds like an abuse of office on the Republican leadership's part.

The second give away, equally telling, is his claim that "noone would have known any of that" but for the hearings. But, in fact, the hearings have revealed absolutely NOTHING SIGNIFICANT  WHATSOEVER. The fact that nothing came from the hearings--contrary to McCarthy's misleading assertion--of course, simply highlights that the Benghazi investigation is purely politically motivated.

Sean Hannity may have a net worth of $80 million, but last I checked he is not elected to make public policy of the country. So why is he sounding like he's dictating public policy to Kevin McCarthy? Hannity, at 10:00 in the video here, laments that Boehner has not been taking his calls for the past couple of years. Good for John Boehner. McCarthy looks like a wimp kowtowing to Hannity and the far right Republican wing to get the Speakership.  It does not bode well.


"You don't know me, but you don't like me, 
How many of you who judge me, ever walked the streets of Bakersfield"

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