Dear friends: Thanks to all this week who have signed up for my newsletter here on Substack after my move from Mailchimp.com! I appreciate you being here. For the first few weeks I will send out both the free and paid newsletter to all subscribers. But after Jan 22, I will then only send the second weekly newsletter--and invite to the monthly online meeting—to paid subscribers. But my Sunday newsletter will always remain free to all! Thanks again and now on to Kevin McCarthy and the lesson that we all should take from it—be it in politics or in daily life: You can NOT appease extremists!
Kevin McCarthy is a yet another example of this truism: You cannot appease extremists
January 28, 2021.
That is the date that kicked off the events that led to where Kevin McCarthy stands today as we are witnessing the first multi-ballot fight for House Speaker in over 100 years. What happened on January 28, 2021? That is when McCarthy flew down to Mar-A-Lago to meet with Donald Trump to grovel for his support/seek forgiveness for his comments slamming Trump on the House floor just days after Trump’s Jan 6 terrorist attack on our Capitol. But as history has shown us countless times, you cannot appease fascists and other extremists. McCarthy is seeing that play out now on the national stage as he suffers loss after loss caused by the very MAGA extremists he sought to appease.
As a reminder, one week after the Jan 6 attack on Jan 13, McCarthy did the right thing for our nation and even his own political party/future. That’s when McCarthy made headlines with his House floor speech where in no uncertain terms he laid the Jan 6 attack at the feet of Trump, declaring: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” The House GOP leader added about Trump, “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump.”
To McCarthy’s credit, he was saying the same thing in private to GOP House members in a Jan 11 conference call, stating to his caucus: “Let me be clear to you and I have been very clear to the President. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if ands or buts.” McCarthy—while opposing impeaching Trump at the time—did publicly support a censure of Trump by way of a House resolution.
But then came January 28, 2021. In just a little over two weeks, McCarthy went from being a leader for the GOP and the country to a groveling, sniveling spineless politician as he travelled to Trump’s crime lair at Mar-a-Lago. After the meeting, a smiling McCarthy stood for a photo next to the man he stated just weeks before “bears responsibility” for the Jan 6 terrorist attack. (I refer to Jan 6 as a terrorist attack because that’s how DOJ/FBI have defined it.) The two then released a joint statement that nauseatingly read: “They discussed many topics, number one of which was taking back the House in 2022,” the statement read. “President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”
That is when McCarthy began appeasing Trump and the MAGA wing all in the pursuit of power—as opposed to standing up for our nation and his own political party to defeat the extremists. McCarthy’s Jan 28 meeting conjures the infamous Munich Agreement on September 30, 1938, where the leaders of Great Britain and France tried to appease Hitler by agreeing to his request to annex a portion of western Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland. Like McCarthy traveling to Mar-a-Lago, British leader Neville Chamberlain along with the France’s Edouard Daladier flew to Germany to meet Hitler to avoid a war. After this meeting where Hitler’s demands were met, Chamberlain famously told the British public that he had achieved “peace with honour, “adding, “I believe it is peace for our time.”
But it was the response by Chamberlain’s critic Winston Churchill at the time that perfectly summed up what Chamberlain had instead done: “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.” Less than a year later, Hitler invaded Poland—beginning World War II.
A lesser-known example of appeasing fascists in the run up to World War II came in 1935 when Italy’s fascist leader Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia (Abyssinia.) Mussolini wanted to colonize this African country, given it was one of the few not already under the control of a European power. In response to the invasion, the League of Nations—which had been formed after World War I to prevent in part this very type of aggression—did nothing more than publicly protest and impose ineffective sanctions. Many historians actually point to the toothless response of world powers to Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia as giving Hitler a greater sense of confidence that the Western powers would not stand up to his territorial ambitions.
Appeasement of extremists does not work—in politics, in world affairs or even in our own daily lives. Period.
Yet McCarthy foolishly thought he could somehow appease the full-blown fascist movement known as MAGA headed by the fascist leader Trump. (As I wrote in the past, the GOP as a party had been sowing the seeds for that very type of movement in recent years with Trump and Jan 6 attack being the culmination of that.) McCarthy is now seeing up close that fascists view appeasement as weakness. They view every effort to win them over as another sign of how spineless and weak the appeaser is.
For example, since that Jan 28 meeting, McCarthy has been a loyal defender of Trump-even trying to rewrite history to say Trump was actually not responsible for the Jan 6 attack. So how was McCarthy’s non-stop support for Trump since that Jan 28 meeting and offering numerous concessions to the MAGA wing of the GOP House caucus in the run up to the Speaker vote been viewed by MAGA? Well, Trump super ally Rep Matt Gaetz’s op-ed a few weeks ago sums it up where he wrote: “Every single Republican in Congress knows that Kevin [McCarthy] does not actually believe anything. He has no ideology.” Gaetz even slammed McCarthy after he made more concessions on Wednesday, saying about McCarthy: “He’s a desperate guy…I’m ready to vote all night, all week, all month, and never for that person.”
And on Tuesday night after McCarthy suffered three embarrassing defeats for Speaker, there was Tucker Carlson on his Fox News show telling his millions of viewers that, “McCarthy is not especially conservative…His real constituency is the lobbying community in Washington. So, if you’ve got sincere political beliefs, that’s infuriating to watch.”
After two days and six defeats for McCarthy, we have learned Thursday morning that McCarthy is offering even more concessions to the extremists as he desperately seeks to appease them. McCarthy may be able to sell whatever remnants of his soul remain to these extremists to lock in the votes needed to become Speaker. But as history informs us, it will be the very extremists he is now trying to appease who will one day end his Speakership. And McCarthy deserves this fate given how he has sold out our nation in the pursuit of power.
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His tattered soul is just a speed bump.