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Kevin McCarthy Agonistes

McCarthy will twist slowly in the wind. like a character in a Greek tragedy, suffering a virtually unprecedented humiliation live, on nationwide television.

Just hours ago, the House of Representatives recessed, after Rep. Kevin McCarthy failed in his long-held desire to be Speaker—failing, and failing badly, for the sixth time in two days.

Needing 218 votes, McCarthy fell well short with 201 votes in the most recent roll call—with Rep. Hakim Jeffries, Democrat of New York, garnering 201 votes as minority leader, and Rep. Byron Donalds getting 20 votes as spoiler for the Republican Freedom Caucus.

In a half hour, Congress is set to reconvene for an evening session—possibly to have McCarthy say he’s stepping aside, more likely to have yet another vote, the seventh, or, well, who knows just what?

What we do know is that Kevin McCarthy will twist slowly in the wind. like a character in a Greek tragedy, suffering a virtually unprecedented humiliation live, on nationwide television, for yet another day. Imagine how hard it must be to keep a stiff upper lip hour after hour as your colleagues—many of whom you helped get elected—let you know much they like watching you suffer.

Standard procedure is for a new majority caucus to put their heads together offscreen and come together to elect their leader on the ballot—perhaps with a few dissenting members, but enough to get the ball over the goal line on the first ballot.

And then merriment ensues as the members of Congress are sworn in, including first-timers who often bring their kids along to watch the honor. The first day, we saw our local congressman, Rep. Jimmy Gomez, proudly parading around the floor carrying his small son on his chest in a baby pack.

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Well, we’ll have none of that today—and maybe not for days to come.

What could happen?

In ”Speaker of the House 2023”, Robert Reich feels House Democrats should unite with “moderate” Republicans—assuming such a beast exists—to elect a alternative candidate, such as Ohio Republican Rep. David Joyce.

In “Democrats for McCarthy?”, Gary Karasik thinks Democrats would be wise to offer to support McCarthy’s candidacy in return for special favors.

In “Wagging the Dog, Digging the Hole,” John Peeler thinks the calculus might work the other, with desperate Republicans begging Democrats to dig them out of the mess they’ve made for themselves.

The two of us shared our thoughts in this video—and we invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.