Mr. Speaker, a Thank You would have served you well!
By a vote of 216-210, Kevin McCarthy, a Republican Congressman from Bakersfield, CA, became the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to be voted out of office. He was in the position less than ten months.
Even though the House has a Republican majority, several GOP members voted with the Democrats to remove him. It was Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida that offered the resolution to vacate the chair, but he did not know that all of the Democrats were going to vote with him, and seven Republicans, to remove McCarthy. He can thank former Speaker McCarthy for that.
McCarthy had just averted another crisis during his tenure as Speaker, pushing through a resolution that avoided a literal government shutdown at the literal eleventh hour. McCarthy was able to get just about all of the House Democrats and nearly half of the Republican Conference to pass the resolution, which will allow the government to operate until November 17th.
On the ensuing Sunday morning talk shows, McCarthy, instead of thanking the Democratic House Leadership for their assistance and support, bashed the Democrats and blamed them for the near shutdown. He did this knowing that Gaetz, or one of his other Republican enemies, was going to present the resolution to vacate.
Therefore, his political ungratefulness cost him the job that he coveted so much. A job he endured 15 ballots, and several years, to attain.
Had McCarthy just done the usual Washingtonian thank your opponents for their allegiance to country over party shtick, he would still be Speaker. How? Because it would have given the Democrats to opportunity to decide which Republican they wanted to defeat. Many probably would have voted present. Some probably would have even left the chamber. All because he would have shown gratitude, humility and a modicum of trust.
But his decision to play the partisan game cost him his job, and defined his legacy.
McCarthy, when he entered the House Chamber on October 3, 2023, looked like a man defeated. Hard to say if he was reflective at the moment. Hopefully, at some point of his life, he will be. Maybe then he will understand how far a simple thank you will get you in American politics, a lesson learned for him much too late.