Dems Back Gaetz at Their Own Peril

Much of the coverage of today's vote to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has focused on what concessions McCarthy might give Democrats to bail him out of the mess he finds himself in. Little consideration has been paid, however, to what risks Democrats might take in backing an unprincipled and unserious Republican in pursuing a personal vendetta against McCarthy.

What will follow a vote to oust McCarthy? Nobody has any idea. Who will be the next speaker? Unknown and unknowable. Will that speaker allow an up or down vote on aid to Ukraine? Unknown and unknowable. Will that speaker oversee a long and painful shutdown of the government in pursuit of unobtainable concessions? We will all find out together.

Democrats and the media, if we can be redundant, seem singularly focused on the immediate pleasure to be had in the spectacle of Republican chaos and McCarthy's humiliation. But there will be only a handful of Republicans who vote to bring down the speaker and open Pandora's box.

This is a pattern we’ve seen from Democrats over the past decade, starting with Claire McCaskill’s successful campaign to boost Todd Akin in Missouri's 2012 GOP Senate primary. A few years later, Democrats cheered on Donald Trump as he crushed his GOP opponents, confident that he was the weakest general election candidate they could face. Since then, they have elevated a procession of unserious Republican candidates with millions of dollars in advertising, from Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania to Darren Bailey in Illinois and John Gibbs in Michigan. Sometimes they have succeeded, other times not.

The entire Democratic Party, however—including the "Problem Solvers" who claim to empower the middle at the expense of the extremes—seems keen at this juncture to join the reckless agents of chaos without care for the consequences.

In the short term, Republicans will own those consequences because a friendly and pliant media will pin the blame on them. But it may not be long before this chaos engulfs much more.