When you’re the Party of Corruption, your goal is to carry out your corrupt agenda in a way that looks like reform. Ronald Reagan, for instance, was a Grade-A bullshitter who was able to keep his extremist base happy with a wink and a nod, while fooling low information moderate voters into believing he was actually cleaning up the system. In contrast, today’s House Republicans are…not good at this.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has begun handing out committee assignments, and thus far he’s reportedly putting insurrectionist cheerleader Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Homeland Security Committee, federal criminal investigation target Scott Perry on the Oversight Committee, and lifelong financial fraudster George Santos on the Small Business Committee.
These moves are obviously bad for the country. But here’s the thing. They also look bad. Everyone out there already knows that Greene is an anti-government lunatic. Everyone already knows that Santos is a fraudster. And if Perry ends up indicted in relation to January 6th, everyone out there is going to see him as a criminal.
Instead of trying to hide his most controversial and scandalous members from public view, he’s putting them front and center. They’re each going to use these committee assignments to try to carry out deranged attempts at retaliation against any federal agencies that are investigating them, and it’s going to look really, really bad in the eyes of the mainstream.
We all know that McCarthy has to give Greene whatever she wants, or else she’ll have the rest of the insurrection caucus oust him as Speaker. But putting Santos on the Small Business Committee is an unforced error. Santos worked for a small business that turned out to be an alleged Ponzi scheme. Then he took that money and formed a sham small business of his own. Now he’s reportedly under investigation to determine whether this is the money he loaned his campaign. If McCarthy had any sense at all, he’d have put Santos on the most back bench committee he could think of, with no connection to any of Santos’ scandals. But McCarthy doesn’t have any sense.
With these committee assignments, Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans are making the stupid mistake of pandering solely to their own too-small base. Donald Trump spent his time in office pandering solely to his base, and it caused him to lose reelection by seven million votes. Now his sidekick McCarthy is carrying out an even dumber iteration of that same mistake. It’s setting up the Republicans to lose the House in 2024, and it’s handing the Democrats every talking point under the sun.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report