Boehner to McCarthy: From Frying Pan to Fire?

Say what you will about the soon-to-be-replaced House Speaker John Boehner, but the wildly ambitious pilgrim who is waiting in the wings and heavily favored to replace him as Speaker—former Majority Whip and current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy—could very well make us all cry for our mamas once he takes over.

Boehner (one of 12 children) is 65 years old, a blue-collar Ohioan representing the state’s 8th congressional district, and a practicing and devout Roman Catholic. So moved was he by the Pope Francis’s recent address to Congress, he openly wept on national television.

Granted, the lachrymose Boehner has been known to weep at Hallmark commercials and the sight of dogs mating on his driveway, but still, in this cynical world, the man’s unabashed emotionalism is refreshing. By contrast, McCarthy is a sharp-eyed and unsentimental 50-year old “climber,” a Californian and a Southern Baptist.

Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that being from the relatively progressive state of California makes McCarthy a “moderate,” they need to be reminded of two things: One, there is no such thing as a “Republican moderate,” and two, McCarthy hails from Bakersfield, in Kern County, a region which has been nicknamed “The California Ozarks.” Alas, it’s the shit-kicker capital of the state.

A fourth generation Kern County resident, McCarthy graduated from Cal State Bakersfield with a degree in Marketing. Not only are liberals and moderate Republicans anathema to him, he found his own family’s political views to be more or less repellant.

Raised by staunch Democrats, young Kevin nonetheless rejected his family’s long-time political values, turned conservative, and subsequently became president of the Young Republicans, in 1995, at the age of 30.

Of course, like so many boisterous anti-government, pro-private sector Republicans, McCarthy is no stranger to hypocrisy. Indeed, pretending to detest the government while simultaneously turning to it as benefactor is his stock in trade.

Consider: The largest employer in Kern County is, far and away, the Kern County government bureaucracy. It goes without saying that any attempt by McCarthy to significantly strip his district of those coveted County jobs would result not only in him losing the next election, but being hanged in effigy.

On the other hand, McCarthy does adhere to boilerplate conservative principles in his denunciation of anthropogenic global warming (i.e. climate change being caused by human activity), having signed a 2010 pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, promising never to vote for any climate legislation that would raise taxes on targeted polluters.

Taking a glass-half-full vs. glass-half-empty approach we can either fault McCarthy (and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) for ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence, or praise him for framing the problem in purely economic terms, and not going so far as to call the entire global warming issue a “hoax,” as Oklahoma Senator James (Mr. Petroleum”) Inhofe has done.

Still, McCarthy’s mission in life seem to be to impose his perverse will upon the nation. Unlike Boehner who was a tepid Thatcherite, McCarthy is an ideologue who has vowed not to rest until Roe vs. Wade is overturned. The National Right to Life Committee gave him a perfect rating of 100-percent. And he’s the man who will be running Congress. Johnny, we hardly knew ye.

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David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

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