What are Kevin McCarthy’s weaknesses? There are so many, we could spend all day trying to catalogue them all. But in terms of his fragile speakership, the weakness he has to worry about most is his too-small majority and his inability to make his most reasonable caucus members happy for fear of alienating his most unhinged members.
Of course there are no “reasonable” House Republicans remaining these days. But as Palmer Report has repeatedly pointed out, there are a number of House Republicans who come from moderate swing districts, and therefore have to at least pretend to be moderate and reasonable in order to have a chance of getting reelected in their district in 2024.
To that end, President Joe Biden has set his sights on eighteen specific House Republicans in moderate districts, per CNN. His plan is to try to entice them into working with him on bipartisan efforts. The kicker is that Biden only needs to win over five out of the eighteen of them on any given vote, which gives him a number of permutations for getting there.
How successful will this be? We’ll see. None of these House Republicans are good people. But the political reality is that the ones in the most moderate districts do have to each notch at least one bipartisan effort on their belts each term, so they can turn around and campaign on how bipartisan they supposedly are. Biden is wise to hand these eighteen House Republicans their big one-off bipartisan opportunities, so he can take advantage of their desire to each pull off one such move.
This move by Biden also serves the purpose of undermining Kevin McCarthy’s already fragile position. If Biden can get certain House Republicans casting deciding votes against McCarthy, it’ll wipe out what little hold McCarthy has over his caucus. And if the most berserk House Republicans see that McCarthy can’t even pull together a majority vote on certain key issues, they may begin to wonder why they’re still backing him.
The worst that Biden’s strategy could do is not succeed, and then he’s no worse off than if he hadn’t tried. And either way, we’ll be targeting these House Republicans in moderate flippable districts in the 2024 election, in order to replace them with Democrats who will vote correctly every time instead of just once in a blue moon. But Biden might as well try to put them to use before we get rid of them in two years.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report