I’ve written repeatedly that Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) remains highly likely to become Speaker of the House on January 3rd, despite all the sturm und drang to the contrary. But I admit I’m a bit less sure than I was. We should also remember that if McCarthy cannot muster the votes to become Speaker, that is almost certainly the end of his career in electoral politics. (It’s not like he can run statewide in California.) And if tradition holds his defeat would be followed in short order by his resignation and departure from Congress. You don’t get passed over twice for Speaker and remain in the leadership or in Congress.
Yet, to understand this drama, we must remember that it has nothing to do with Kevin McCarthy. To the extent McCarthy’s opponents have made an argument against him it largely turns on the mean things his predecessors John Boehner and Paul Ryan allegedly did to them when they were Speaker.