Kevin McCarthy’s Embrace of Trump Backfired

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High-level politics is fundamentally about dealmaking. You can’t succeed as anything more than a back-bencher if you aren’t willing to make a deal with almost anyone on almost anything. In Faust, a deal with the devil is fatal; on Capitol Hill, it’s how you survive.

But those “almosts” are essential, a lesson Kevin McCarthy is demonstrating this week. More politically disastrous than a deal with the devil, the Californian made a deal with Donald Trump, and now he’s learning how little it was worth. McCarthy decided early on to stay as close to the former president as possible, but even Trump’s steadfast public support couldn’t prevent embarrassment in today’s vote for speaker of the House. Nearly everyone who has pinned their political hopes on Trump has, for one reason or another, had it backfire on them. McCarthy’s case is just a vivid example.

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