GOP's 2023 Biggest Losers: Kevin McCarthy, 'The Never Quitter'

Exploring the Unraveling of a Political Figure's Career

by Zain ul Abedin
GOP's 2023 Biggest Losers: Kevin McCarthy, 'The Never Quitter'
© Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

In a theatrical display of political theater, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., delivered what can only be described as a campy "farewell speech" on December 14. This spectacle left many in stitches. The scene symbolized the stark contrast between McCarthy's self-image as a dignified statesman and the less flattering portrayal as a "stuffed shirt," a term that seems tailor-made for his character.

This year, McCarthy experienced a steep fall from grace, resigning from his office following his ouster as Speaker of the House - a position he briefly held. McCarthy's speech was filled with irony and unintended humor, starting with his proclamation of loving "every single day" of his tenure.

This statement rang hollow, like a husband toasting his wife at their golden anniversary while their marriage had been in shambles since a notorious incident decades earlier. McCarthy, known for his ambition and eventual capitulation in pursuit of the Speaker role, which he lost in less than nine months, ironically advised against fearfulness.

This advice was particularly jarring, considering McCarthy's perceived fearfulness, especially in facing challenges from former President Donald Trump and his allies.

McCarthy's Irony-Laden Fall

The core of McCarthy's message, urging listeners not to fear job loss, was almost comical given his career, defined by a desperate clinging to power.

This desperation was evident in his concessions to controversial figures like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and enduring multiple votes to secure his Speaker role. Furthermore, his agreement to allow any member to call for his ouster displayed a glaring vulnerability within his leadership.

Although only 8 minutes long, McCarthy's speech was a rich source of cringe comedy, highlighting the dissonance between his self-perception and public image. The most telling aspect of his downfall was his undoing by the MAGA forces he once championed, leading to his ouster and eventual resignation from Congress, despite his earlier assertions of never quitting.

McCarthy's Desperate Struggles

The year was marked by McCarthy's continuous debasement, underscored by his futile attempts to garner support from Trump, who remained noncommittal even as McCarthy faced opposition within his party.

The details of McCarthy's attempts to appease Trump, as reported by The Washington Post and former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., paint a picture of a man desperate to maintain favor, even resorting to fabricating excuses like Trump's supposed lack of appetite.

In a twist of irony, McCarthy's tenure, largely unremarkable regarding legislative achievements, managed to unite liberals and members of his party, like Gaetz, in a shared disdain for his leadership. His story is a cautionary tale of ambition and compromise in the tumultuous landscape of contemporary American politics.