by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Matt Gaetz is so upset that Kevin McCarthy cooperated with Democrats on passing a temporary spending measure to forestall a government shutdown that he wants to work with Democrats to topple McCarthy as speaker.
Gaetz is vowing to offer his long-threatened motion to vacate against McCarthy this week.
Since the motion requires a majority to succeed and only a small fraction of Republicans will support it, Gaetz needs a huge proportion of the Democratic caucus to come along. Gaetz the bipartisan dealmaker reportedly reached out first to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which hates McCarthy almost as much as he does, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already on board.
It is, to say the least, counterintuitive strategic thinking to conclude that Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries should be handed power over the fate of a Republican speaker of the House — in the name of conservative ideological purity. But no one will ever mistake Gaetz for Sam Rayburn, or even for Bob Dornan.
The reason why McCarthy went to Democrats on Saturday to avert a shutdown is that Gaetz and some of his colleagues were so adamantly opposed to going along with any plausible Republican spending measure. This left McCarthy the choice of lumbering into a shutdown that would have been blamed on Republicans or courting the ire of Gaetz for the good of the party. McCarthy made the right choice, and Gaetz created the predicate for the alleged outrage that is prompting him to offer his motion.
In reality, we all knew we’d probably end up at this point sooner or later. Gaetz’s entire approach to politics is theatrical and unserious, geared to achieving more notoriety. So, of course, he’s not willing to take some portion of a loaf with McCarthy, not when he can be the center of attention sabotaging his speakership. It is true to brand that Gaetz has no alternative potential speaker whom he’s promoting.