House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy saw his dreams of succeeding John Boehner as Speaker of the House evaporate with his comment on Fox News that the select committee in the House to investigate Benghazi really was just a political ploy to undermine Hillary Clinton. He didn't mean it, they said at the time. It was just a slip-up.
Today, another House Republican from the Boehner-McCarthy camp went on a northern New York radio station and "slipped up" on the exact same thing. Congressman Richard Hanna even went so far as to assert that McCarthy got in trouble for telling the truth about the Benghazi committee.
Hanna added that it shouldn't matter, but no objective observer would believe that these were off-the-cuff remarks. They are as polished as they are prepared.
But why? Why would a part of the Republican party be looking to undermine a committee that was in fact set up to manufacture scandal in the Obama administration and take down Secretary Clinton? Clearly, the so-called slip-ups are helping Hillary Clinton and the Republicans would never plan on that!
I posit to you, however, that the battle for the control of the Republican party is so critical and ugly that the party's establishment is left with no choice if they are to wrestle control from the inmates (Tea Party) that's running their asylum of a party.
After the election of the country's first African American president, Republicans wanted to use the racist anger of their conservative base that had banded together into the Tea Party for votes.
As the country was in the midst of the worst economic disaster in a century, the Tea Party, and with their support the Republican establishment, even convinced much of America that their anger had to do with government spending to rescue the economy, and even about intervention in health care, and not borne by anti-government racist sentiments. Yeah so they photoshopped President Obama into an African witch doctor with a bone through his nose and spat on civil rights icon John Lewis, but it was really just the spending black people were doing that they were mad at, you see, not the color of their skin.
Seemed to go pretty well for them, too. Yes, the Democrats and the President finally accomplished health reform and Wall Street reform while making sure the banks paid back every penny borrowed from taxpayers with interest, but pitchfork-progressives had convinced enough folks to stay home in 2010 that the GOP swept control of the House, with Tea Party turnout.
That's when things started turning sour for the establishment. Right off the bat, Tea Partiers weren't happy with the GOP's leadership. It wasn't quite crazy enough for their taste. The sequester deal narrowly averted a government shutdown in 2011, and Tea Partiers were pissed.
Every time following that the Republicans played it close but backed off from completely destroying the full faith and credit of the United States, Teabaggers have grown angrier and angrier. Every battle John Boehner has badly lost to the president cemented the Tea Party's belief that "their" majority in Congress isn't doing jack to rein in the usurper Mulatto in the White House. Boehner's latest surrender came earlier today.
When you let the extremists take over, sooner or later you find out the truth that no extreme is extreme enough. John Boehner sued the president for doing his job, tried to take away health care from 17 million people over 50 times, and refused to revive the Voting Rights Act. Heck, he even appointed the Benghazi committee to try to calm the incessant mouthbreathers in his party.
It's not exactly a surprise that Trey Gowdy, the Chair of the Benghazi sham committee, is a Tea Party darling who rode the Tea Party wave to office in the 2010 midterms.
But the committee, along with all the other things Boehner did to appease his burn-it-down caucus, had a purpose. To give the Tea Partiers a few shiny objects so that they would be, well, appeased.
They weren't. Since Boehner wouldn't burn down the entire US financial system by defaulting on American debt or shut down the government over defunding women's health care, they gunned for him. Still, he didn't have to resign. It would have been very hard for the crazy caucus to come up with enough votes to remove the Speaker, as they would have had to come up with enough votes declaring the speakership vacant, for which, in a turn of irony of ironies, they would need support from House Democrats.
But what if Boehner resigned not just because of conservative pressure but to teach the Teabaggers a lesson? What if Boehner knew the chaos that would ensue in the GOP once he stepped down?
I mean, everyone except for people living in caves since 2007 could have predicted that the Tea Party nuts would go after Kevin McCarthy the same way they did Boehner. Not because Boehner and McCarthy aren't total right wing nutjobs, but as mentioned before, no extreme is extreme enough - at least not without setting fire to the US government wholesale.
Knowing all of that, Boehner resigns, and McCarthy throws his hat in the race to replace him. Then he goes on Fox News and undermines the Benghazi committee - for the moment the sacred cow of the Tea Party cadre. Then he pulls out, and to be honest, in the press conference following, he didn't seem too sad to do it. The comment about the Benghazi committee "didn't help," he says.
What if it did help? Help the establishment put the onus on the Teabaggers to either come up with a consensus candidate for Speaker (which they can't), or accept another choice from the establishment and shut the fuck up? What if McCarthy's exit was designed to throw the chaosmakers (Tea Party) into chaos themselves?
That would seem to have worked. Republicans still can't decide on a candidate for Speaker, Boehner is moving toward a clean government funding and debt ceiling bill, and the most established of all establishment, Paul Ryan, is being begged to consider taking over the Speaker's gavel.
For good measure, though, the establishment needs to... well, establish that the Tea Party is really good for nothing. So, take out their sacred cow. Make well placed, well-timed "gaffes" about it that exposes its true purpose and undermines its credibility and its leadership. And if they can get Hillary Clinton to help with the smackdown, all the better.
Does the establishment still want the witch hunt? Of course. But they may have realized that they can't have both the witch hunt and hold back the threat from the Teabaggers to their own party. One had to be sacrificed.
Maybe, just maybe it will make rank and file Republicans realize that the dream of a Tea Party revolution is dead.
I can't say for certain this is exactly what is going on, but the battle for the control of the GOP has been raging for a while, and it is at its top height now. Could the establishment be deliberately cutting off the Tea Party head so that the outward nuts in their party can go back to their desired role - voting for the GOP instead of trying to upend it?