House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke for over eight hours Thursday night into Friday morning, breaking the record for the longest “magic minute” as he used his time at the mic to delay the final vote on the reconciliation bill.
While the bill passed Friday morning, McCarthy seemed to have an ulterior motive: ingratiating himself with the right wing of the party as he embarks on his bid for the speaker’s gavel, should Republicans win the House in 2022.
“I don’t know if Speaker Pelosi stays around,” he said during his grueling soliloquy. “The damage she’s doing is a lot. Personally, I hope she stays. I want her to hand that gavel to me. I want her to be here.”
The speech was replete with gruesome imagery of life under President Joe Biden: apocalyptic cities, a border so porous that children can’t play outside in their own backyards, Americans freezing to death due to high heating costs, China lapping the United States in innovation, baby carrots. (Yes, baby carrots.)
But as the hours ticked by, McCarthy glued to the floor in an effort to beat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) 2018 record, some recurring themes cropped up.
It’s a tricky line to walk, name dropping Elon Musk one moment, then hastily pointing out that you can’t afford his products the next. But McCarthy walked it with aplomb.
- Pals from different sides of the tracks: “I can’t even afford to test drive a Tesla. And Elon is one of my best friends.”
- McCarthy, with his Bakersfield ice house, looks down on your elitist refrigerators: “I remember seeing Speaker Pelosi on the late night TV. I don’t know the name of the refrigerator, I can’t afford one. I like ice cream but I don’t buy that kind. That’s expensive.”
- He pleads ‘ignorance is bliss,’ your Honor: “I started buying and selling cars and flipping them to pay my way through college. I found out later it was illegal, but I didn’t know when I was doing it.”
His Son’s Life In Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’
If you’re harboring illusions of San Francisco as a nice, albeit hilly, place to live, THINK AGAIN. McCarthy’s son spends his days tiptoeing through shattered safety glass in a barely civilized society.
- A plea for civility: “You know what people put on their windows in San Francisco, on the cars? ‘Please don’t break the window again, nothing’s inside.’”
- Your money’s no good here: “If you want to walk to a Walgreens in San Francisco, it’s closed. Because it can’t make money. Because people just come in and take.”
- A city rife with dognappers: “He’s got a little dog, Otis. He said, ‘I can’t wear my airpods when I take him for a walk because you’ve got to be looking. You’ve got to be looking.’”
Never Forgive, Never Forget
What better time to air out old grudges than while delivering a speech to a largely empty House chamber? From a rejected internship application to a lusted-after committee assignment, McCarthy had quite a bit to vent about.
- Young adult McCarthy is VINDICATED: “My local paper, the Bakersfield Californian, had an article to be a summer intern in Washington, D.C. with my local congressman. I had never met this man. I thought, boy, he would be lucky to have me. So I applied. But you know what, Mr. Speaker, he turned me down. You want to know the end of the story, Mr. Speaker? I am now elected to the seat I couldn’t get an internship for to work in. Only in America could that happen.”
- An open wound from Ways and Means: “What a powerful committee. I wanted to be on that committee. They never let me.”
- George W. Bush subtweet: “When we ran for office, [Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)] got the President in Air Force One to come campaign for him. I didn’t get anything. I don’t think they liked me.”
Light Bullying Of The Acting Speaker
Perhaps it was the fatigue, or hunger, or an exceptionally full bladder, but McCarthy could not stop picking at the poor Democrats who took it in shifts to preside over the chamber while he spoke.
- Pee for thee but not for me: “Did you get to take a bathroom break and I didn’t? I understand. It’s okay.”
- All eyes up front: “Madam Speaker, you’re new and I’m not sure you’ve been listening.”
- A recurring theme in which he does not take well the guidance that he keep his eyes to the front and deliver his remarks to the speaker hours after that guidance was given: “I will never tell one of you you can’t look at me. Even if you’re saying something bad about me, you have a right to do it. We’re in America.”
The Child Tax Credit Stuck In His Craw
Of the policy comments he made, his constant circling back to take another swing at the child tax credit was notable. The enhanced credit, first passed in the March stimulus package, was credited with lifting millions of children out of poverty in just the first month it was enacted.
- Raising children is decidedly NOT work: “How do you get somebody to work if the government is paying you more to stay at home? How do you get somebody to work with a child tax credit if you take away the work requirement?”
- Child poverty, child schmoverty: “You take away the work requirement from the child credit, you know who that’s gonna hurt? Small businesses.”
To be fair, it’s hard to get through an eight hour speech without once mentioning the baby carrot conspiracy.
- CarrotAnon: “Have you ever eaten one of these baby carrots? I’ll lead you in on a little secret: there is no such thing. They are just big carrots, they chop them, they charge you more and you buy them.”
- Art thieves need not apply: “Inside my conference room, I have another portrait. It’s a big one — eight feet by 16. It’s a portrait of Washington crossing the Delaware. You all know that painting, do you not? This is a replica.”
- High on Christ: “You know what that general said to him? ‘America, you’re weak. You’re weak, America. You’re weak because you believe in God and you take fentanyl.’”
- Very fine people on both sides: “Mr. Speaker, I’d love to debate Jim Crow one day.”
- Born in the wrong time: “I wish I could have been in Tiananmen Square and I wish I could have been there, knocking down that Berlin Wall.”