Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sealed his own fate when he made a “condescending” comment about one of the GOP members of the House, who ultimately decided to vote in favor of taking away the gavel from McCarthy.
Republican Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee said this week that what made up his mind to vote in favor of McCarthy’s ouster was a comment that the former Speaker made.
After he cast the vote, Burchett spoke to reporters and explained:
“He just said something that was very condescending to me – and it doesn’t really matter at this point – but at that point, I thought to myself that that pretty much sealed it right there.”
Burchett’s decision to vote for McCarthy’s removal was a departure from how he voted earlier this year. During the marathon voting sessions that confirmed McCarthy as Speaker, Burchett voted to support him all 15 times.
A recent conversation the two had changed Burchett’s mind on McCarthy, though, and he became one of the eight Republican members of the House who voted to remove their leader from the speakership.
“I was going down two paths. I said one was keeping my friendship with Kevin McCarthy, and two was my conscience. So, my conscience won out, and it’s served me pretty well. And I said I would be praying about it, and I do. I ask God for wisdom.
“Then the first thing out of his mouth on the phone was something very condescending. I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to listen to him. I’m glad he’s calling. I’m sorry it’s right here at the last hour, but I’m going to listen to him.’
“And it was something condescending about my religious beliefs, and I just thought, I don’t need that. And that answered my question right there. That quality and the character there … maybe that’s the wrong time to judge on it, but that’s what I did.”
Burchett is a Christian, and he speaks openly about his strong faith a lot. McCarthy, of course, knows this – or at least he should have, given the fact that he was the leader of the Republican Party in the House.
So, for him to say anything even remotely close to what Burchett could have considered to be condescending is shocking.
It may not have mattered either way, since even with Burchett’s support, McCarthy still would have lost the gavel. But, the point is that it does highlight how McCarthy may have been out of touch with some people in his party – and not just the far-right wing of the party that so many people have focused on during this fight over the speakership.
For his part, McCarthy said he didn’t mean to offend Burchett. He explained the conversation at his Tuesday press conference:
“I said, ‘Tim, I read your quote. You said you’re going to pray about it. I wanted to talk to you about it.’ And somehow, he construes that – I’m Christian, I’m not going to offend somebody – I simply read his quote back. I thought there was still an opening, and I wanted to talk to him about it.”