Oct 25, 2022
It's doubtful that Liz Truss was responsible for the demise of Britain's longest-serving monarch, who died just two days after the new prime minister kissed her hand, but just about everything else that could go wrong during Truss's lightning-round premiership in fact did.
Truss was so bad at her job, and so transparently doomed, that tabloids took to publishing a picture of her next to a head of lettuce (or, in the more charming British parlance, "a lettuce"), and asking which would last longer.
As we now know, the lettuce won.
McCarthy brings to the job all the spine of pulverized amoeba. While he guides his party toward the lofty goal of owning the libs, he himself will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trump and all the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of his caucus.
In fact, it is likely that the lettuce will keep winning going forward, as the clown car that is the British Conservative Party careens down the narrow icy road of national governance, radio blaring, oblivious driver(s) reveling.
Meanwhile, we should also expect a similar dynamic to unfold here, on this side of The Pond, and for the same reasons.
An odd symmetry within what the Brits like to call "The Special Relationship" has been evident for decades now. The two Jims of the countries' respective left-leaning parties--Callaghan of Labour, Carter the Democrat--presided over weak economies in the late 1970s and were unceremoniously defenestrated for their efforts. In came another matched pair, Thatcher and Reagan, both from the right wing of the right-wing party. These were followed by another (less than dynamic) duo, John Major and Bush 41, both "kinder, gentler" versions of their predecessors, both anemic one-termers.
Then there were the 'New' twins, Tony Blair of New Labour and Bill Clinton, the New Democrat, who spawned 'third way,' formerly-progressive parties, and were successful... until they weren't. This pattern of cross-Atlantic harmonization was less evident early in this century, but was revived recently with the pairing of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, two imperious ADHD-addled destruction machines with really bad hair.
Now Britain is about to get a new prime minister, and while a different American president is two years away, the U.S. will quite likely soon be replacing the Speaker of the House, probably with Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy will fail almost as spectacularly as did Truss, saved only by the fact that his actual policy-making power will be limited. Ironically, it will be Democrats in the Senate and Joe Biden's veto pen that will allow McCarthy to last longer than a lettuce, by keeping House-passed legislation from actually becoming law and impacting the American public.
But that is not to say that he won't smell bad. Like Truss, McCarthy is a supremely self-serving careerist who is utterly bereft of anything remotely resembling a principle, even a stray, inadvertent one. She, for example, was against Brexit before becoming its most ardent champion, while he opposed a violent coup against American democracy before recognizing more urgent priorities. Like the career ambitions of Kevin McCarthy.
Truss offered her distressed country a program of Thatcherist ideas that had already gone rancid back when the Soviet Union was still a country. She was shocked that Britons, struggling to heat their homes and pay their bills, weren't enthralled with tax cuts for billionaires as a solution for all that ails them.
Like Truss, McCarthy is a supremely self-serving careerist who is utterly bereft of anything remotely resembling a principle, even a stray, inadvertent one.
McCarthy, for his part, will proffer initiatives even more retro and irrelevant to peoples' concerns, if those can be imagined. There will be de rigueur tax giveaways for the rich, of course, but mostly he will make sure that there are more guns on our streets, more forced childbearing, more bigotry of every stripe, more democracy subversion and, especially, more of the Orange Jesus. Everywhere. Then there will be the impeachment of Joe Biden for the high crime of... being the father of Hunter. With recession looming and inflation adding to the public's misery, this program seems as likely to satisfy as did Truss's.
McCarthy brings to the job all the spine of pulverized amoeba. While he guides his party toward the lofty goal of owning the libs, he himself will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Trump and all the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of his caucus. Get ready for congressional hearings on Jewish space lasers and pizza parlor pedophile rings. Even in a nation with as much capacity for foolishness as America's, real people with real problems will not be amused.
Britain is about to have its fifth prime minister in six years. Meanwhile, the longevity of Republican leaders in the House is nearly as unimpressive. Anybody remember John Boehner? Paul Ryan? Nor should the new occupants of either position be expected to last long. The problem is structural. Governing while wedded to an ideology that is dishonest, demeaning and destructive just isn't popular, oddly enough, though if you're Boris Johnson or Donald Trump, you may be able to distract people for a while with your prodigious entertainment value.
But only for a while. Kevin McCarthy will last somewhat longer than a rotting lettuce, because Democrats will save him from himself. But don't expect it to smell nice.
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