McCarthy still hamstrung: chaos in the House

After eleven rounds of voting, the US House of Representatives is still without a speaker because of a blockade by 20 Republicans who view their party's candidate Kevin McCarthy as too moderate. Even a call by former President Donald Trump to vote for McCarthy failed to convince the "Never Kevins".

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Financial Times (GB) /

Democrats could end the standoff

The Democrats should pitch in to resolve the situation, the Financial Times urges:

“If this is the chaos that ensues just to choose a Republican Speaker, what hope is there of a functioning legislature even if a Speaker is eventually chosen? This should also give pause for thought to the Democrats. True, they currently look like the party of competence compared to the rats-in-a-sack across the aisle. But for all the Democrats' schadenfreude, it is within their constitutional gift to break the stalemate by getting behind a moderate Republican candidate with whom they could work, having lost their majority in the House. Gridlock will otherwise shelve Biden's programme of reform.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Republicans must turn away from populism

El Mundo says the GOP needs new leaders:

“McCarthy has become a scapegoat for the relative failure in the mid-term elections. ... These 20 or so members of Congress are doing everything they can to torpedo what remains of the legislature. ... Their will to disrupt the process was evident on Wednesday when they turned a deaf ear to Trump's call to order. ... The Republican Party urgently needs a new leadership that enables it to turn away from populism and return to its democratic roots.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Fear of the electorate paralysing politics

The bitter struggle in the US should be a lesson to Belgium's parties, warns De Morgen:

“With the 2024 presidential election moving ever closer, parties will be less and less willing to overcome their fears and take difficult decisions. Any deviation from the party programme could take its toll at the ballot box. ... Politics is reduced to a game of strategy and defending one's own little garden. This logic has paralysed the political process for years. Too many problems are left unaddressed for too long because too many politicians are more concerned about public perception and 'their supporters' than about what the country needs in the long run. In the end, the extreme parties will be rubbing their hands in glee.”

The Economist (GB) /

Just breaking toys

The Never Kevin movement is a destructive force, The Economist writes:

“With no Speaker, no legislation can progress and no new members can be sworn in. This leaves the people temporarily without representation. The move is therefore a drastic one for the Never Kevins to make. So why did they do it? Not, surely, in opposition to Mr McCarthy's proposed agenda. Released before the midterm elections in November 2022, his 'Commitment to America' would struggle to fill a postcard with policies that are within the power of Congress to enact. Nor do the Never Kevins have much of an agenda themselves. Instead, the plan seems to have been to break the toys so that nobody else can play with them.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Radicals have huge blackmailing potential

In view of this disaster there is good cause for concern, writes Hospodářské noviny:

“Many American commentators have so far argued that these extremists will not have much clout. Now things look different. The Trump radicals have proven that with a weak Republican majority in the House of Representatives they have enormous blackmailing potential. And their appetite is growing as the meal gets bigger. America's Republicans are a disparate, erratic political group. They embody an uncertain, dangerous unpredictability for the free world.”

Aamulehti (FI) /

Unity must be the top priority

The internal bickering is damaging not just for the Republicans, Aamulehti concurs:

“It is time for an end to the intrigues. Even if all this is happening far away it has far-reaching effects on the whole world, including Finland. The stability of the US economy and market is of paramount importance to a world recovering from a pandemic. Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine is undermining all the pillars of the world order as we know it. ... The parties in the Capitol should realise that they must not be internally divided - if only for the sake of ordinary citizens. The unity of the United States should be their top priority. But today it appears to be anything but that.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Pelosi showed how it's done

McCarthy lacks the competence that distinguished the former Democratic speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung concludes:

“The embarrassment of the non-election of Republican Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives casts a spotlight on how masterfully Pelosi exercised this office for a total of eight years. ... She was a brilliant craftswoman of power in the US's third highest post. ... Leading the House of Representatives means herding a flea circus. It requires keeping one's own faction in line using charm, minor appointments, legislative favours and harsh threats. Pelosi was exceptionally talented at this, but McCarthy lacks the skills.”

BBC (GB) /

In tatters

McCarthy's failure reveals the disunity plaguing his party, the BBC comments:

“What was meant to be a victorious moment for the GOP after it gained control of Congress in the November elections has turned into a political mess, with the party's deep divisions now on full display as they prepare to control the House. There is almost no precedent for this and so what happens tomorrow is still unclear. But until a speaker is chosen the House will be stuck - not allowed to move forward with any other business - meaning the Republican's internal strife may bring the federal government to a halt.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Dogmatically crippled

The party is on the wrong track, Le Monde analyses:

“The Republicans suffer above all from a severe ideological breakdown similar to that of the British Tories after decades of neoliberalist dominance. ... The party has abandoned its old convictions on immigration and free trade, but without forging a vision that offers voters prospects for the future. It has converted to a populism fuelled by identity fears which has reduced it to rejecting outright all proposals coming from the Democratic camp, dismissing progressive ideas as 'wokism', and denying the persistence of social inequalities, starting with systemic racism.”