House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is finding out that it’s tough to strike the right balance between supporting leaders of your party who incited a violent insurrection and criticizing the violent insurrection. It turns out that there’s no “right balance” when it comes to supporting violent insurrection, go figure.
McCarthy has ping-ponged from admitting that Donald Trump “bears responsibility” for his supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol that left five dead, including a police officer beaten to death by the mob, to stumbling backward to insist that “I don’t believe [Trump] provoked it, if you listen to what he said at the rally,” because oh noes, Trump supporters get mad if you say he ever bears responsibility for anything at all. Next McCarthy careened over to the insistence that “I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility.”
Everybody! Across the whole country! People who battered down windows at the Capitol and chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and people who watched in horror on their televisions as that happened. Politicians who, like Trump, told the mob to march on the Capitol while saying “you’ll never take our country back with weakness,” and politicians who went from trying to fulfill their constitutional duty to count the electoral votes to hiding in secure rooms while the screaming mob tried to find them. And, of course, President Biden bears responsibility for trying to unite the country by only pursuing policies Republicans like, and if he tries to do any Democrat-type things, then it’s all his fault, too.
McCarthy also went on to whine about Rep. Liz Cheney’s impeachment vote, saying “Look, I support her, but I also have concerns.” He’s concerned she didn’t run her stand by him first, but again, Kevin McCarthy is not trying to be the guy taking a firm position on anything, so “I do think she has a lot of questions she has to answer to the conference.” He’s just concerned, himself, and disappointed she didn’t communicate better. But hoo boy, that conference is going to have some questions.
Next, McCarthy came out with an ass-covering tweet about how he doesn’t support the domestic terrorists, but “it is incumbent upon every person in America to help lower the temperature of our political discourse.” Again, everybody. No special responsibility to the people who are carrying out the violence. His staff even emailed other Republican communications staffers asking them to please please please retweet this masterful piece of statesmanship.
Or, more privately, ”We’re eating sh*t for breakfast, lunch and dinner right now,” a McCarthy aide told Axios. Yeah, well, your boss is spewing sh*t every time he opens his mouth, then backtracking to eat his own words, so that makes sense.
There just isn’t a comfortable “both sides” on a violent mob attacking the seat of government to prevent lawmakers from formalizing an election result the mob doesn’t like. Until McCarthy realizes that and commits to a side—for violent insurrection or against it—he’s going to keep taking incoming from all directions. Forget the single violin, break out the entire tiny orchestra for this poor guy.