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Our View: McCarthy’s big mistake - he didn’t first respect himself

We’re not surprised that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of his job on Tuesday. But the real wild cards in the showdown turned out to be some hard-right Republicans.

Lauren Boebert voted against removing the California Republican, saying on X (formerly Twitter) she wanted to prioritize the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, as well as spending bills, at this time.

Doug Lamborn also voted against ousting McCarthy.


Yet, Ken Buck joined Democrats in casting one of the eight deciding Republican votes to yank that gavel tightly gripped in McCarthy’s hand.

The 216-210 vote, forced by Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida with the “motion to vacate,” leaves the U.S. House paralyzed when Congress has until Nov. 17 to avert a government shutdown. Making history, the House essentially said no one in charge beats McCarthy.

A drastic choice.

Interesting is the split between Republicans and Democrats, and differing reasons for McCarthy’s ouster over his credibility, and policy and political differences. Republicans who voted against the former speaker did so because he made a deal with Democrats to pass a stopgap spending measure last week.

With this concession, we thought Dems might have given him a break. Keep McCarthy in place while the government shutdown clock ticks. But not a single one did.

Overall, they just didn’t trust him.

McCarthy never really had a chance. He pledged allegiance to a group that included a handful who put loyalty over governance. Relentlessly harassed and humiliated from the start with those 15 rounds of voting in January to seat him, at times, we were embarrassed for him. McCarthy wanted the job too much. He grasped too hard and, in doing so, lost his purpose.

No matter that he was like-minded in multiple, demonstrated ways with his conservative colleagues.

Consider his track record. McCarthy voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election after rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. In the summer, he reneged on the debt limit deal made with President Joe Biden. Without evidence of wrongdoing, he opened an impeachment inquiry into Biden. He’s chummy with Donald Trump.

You’d think his loyalty would have been a life buoy. But, no. It wasn’t enough.

However helpful to Americans, his move to keep the government temporarily open did him in. “I don’t regret standing up for choosing governance over grievance,” McCarthy said at a news conference. “It is my responsibility. It is my job. I do not regret negotiating; our government is designed to find compromise.”

Yet, most of the time, he didn’t compromise. He chose governance on rare occasions. He was so beholden to a handful, he was a marked man from the start. Chronically squeezed, in moments, McCarthy looked as if he wasn’t breathing.

In the final hours in closed-door sessions with Democrats, McCarthy didn’t even try for the “compromise” he spoke of. He offered nothing and implied Democrats wanted the shutdown. He was unskillful right when he needed to be his sharpest, best self. No strategy to cut a deal to keep this job he so badly wanted.

McCarthy’s choices were those of a desperate man, serving his own ambitions. This made him untrustworthy to everyone involved. Dramatic to the end, in the final vote, each House member’s name was called, then “yea” or “nay” heard around the chamber.

It was difficult to know who McCarthy really is. He didn’t earn respect from either party because he didn’t first respect himself.