Untalented political stooge and Wanna-be speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has stuck upon a jenius idea: He’ll play the Good Cop to negotiate with the lunatics in the Freedom Caucus. And you’ll never guess who will play the Bad Cops! If you said Moderate Republicans, you get the prize!
[The crowd reacts to K-Mac playing Good Cop]
Anyway, Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) email thingie goes really, Really, REALLY long:
On Friday, after a group of seven House conservatives issued a public letter outlining the demands that GOP Leader KEVIN McCARTHY would need to meet to win their support in his bid for speaker, a key McCarthy backer quietly reached out to several moderate Republicans with a request, according to people familiar with the conversations.
The Freedom Caucus rabble-rousers had reiterated their demand that McCarthy restore a 200-year-old, now-infamous House rule known as the “motion to vacate,” which allows any one member to force a floor vote to oust the speaker at any moment.
McCarthy’s camp wanted the centrists to push back hard on the proposal, which the would-be speaker fiercely opposes. If they did, McCarthy would be able to point to their opposition, say his hands are tied and refuse to give in to conservatives’ demands. McCarthy’s office declined to comment to Playbook.
Fast-forward to this week …
— On Tuesday, the centrist Republican Governance Group — which boasts 50 members, far more than the Freedom Caucus’ three dozen or so — agreed in its weekly lunch that it would oppose conservatives’ proposed rules changes, news that leaked to WaPo’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer on Wednesday morning.
— A few hours later, some members of the Governance Group met with McCarthy to double down on that position, as CNN’s Mel Zanona reported.
But the backstory of the moderates’ flex, and especially the McCarthy camp’s quiet encouragement of their opposition — reported here for the first time — provides a rare window into the strategy McCarthy will employ to try to get the gavel, and also how he will likely govern if he does.
THE PLAYBOOK: By using moderates as a critical tool for countering conservatives, McCarthy appears to be carefully positioning himself to say to his right flank: Sorry, your own colleagues won’t support such a demand. Having them play “bad cop” on anything from the motion to vacate to, possibly, a future debt ceiling showdown, for example, could set McCarthy up to be seen as the “good cop” — a reasonable dealmaker trying to find a path forward between warring factions.
But just because there’s a political calculus at play doesn’t mean the moderates aren’t genuine in their opposition to restoring the motion to vacate. Far from it: We spoke to three such GOP lawmakers recently who blasted the idea.
— “People are very much concerned about descending into chaos,” Rep. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-N.D.) told Playbook.
— “We don’t want the future speaker to have a gun to their head on every tough vote,” Rep. DON BACON (R-Neb.) agreed.
— Rep. LISA McCLAIN (R-Mich.) told us there are “better ways” to ensure accountability, including allowing a vote of “no confidence” against their leader if needed.
“At the end of the day, we need to focus on real issues that the American people are facing,” McClain said. “It just doesn’t seem very productive.”
[“Give a mouse a cookie?” How about “We don’t negotiate with terrorists?”]
In other words, K-Mac strategy is that he will gladly be held hostage by either side of his Party.
K-Mac is really bad at his job.