Particle politics revisited | Fox News

Nominated Republicans Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the House Minority Leader.To become Speaker of the House if the GOP takes control in January.

But it’s far from clear that McCarthy can attain the votes to become Speaker. McCarthy has been making unsubtle promises over the past few days that he may be able to become Speaker. McCarthy demanded that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas quit or face possible impeachment while on a trip to Mexico’s southern border. McCarthy also promised that “next year, Republicans will start every day of Congress with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. No exceptions.”

Republicans can adopt any rule they wishAs it relates to House operations, when the GOP claims control of January. The House begins every session with the pledge and prayer anyway. In fact, House rule XIV dictates “the daily order of business…shall be as follows: First. Prayer by the Chaplain. Second. Reading and Approval of the Journal, unless postponed under clause 8 of rule XX. Third: The pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.”

Republicans could alter the rule to make sure that the rule is still in effect. “Approval of the Journal” doesn’t interrupt the prayer and pledge. But that’s pretty minimal.


This is a clear indication that McCarthy is trying to get enough votes to become Speaker. Promises to remove Reps. Ilhanomar, D.Minn., Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from committees. Hinting at impeachment in order to satisfy the right’s appetite for power. Appealing to religious conservatives.

Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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It may work. But so far, the math isn’t in favor of McCarthy when the floor vote hits in January. It is unlikely that McCarthy will be supported by the following: Ralph Norman, R.S.C.; Matt Gaetz, R.Fla.; Matt Rosendale, R.Mont.; Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Bob Good (R. Va.). That could be enough votes right there to sink McCarthy’s bid for the gavel.

But McCarthy? 

Steve Scalise, R.-La. House Minority Whip Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is the House Republican Conference Chairwoman. Rep. Tom Emmer, R.Minn., is the incoming House Majority whip. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio? Rep. Patrick McHenry R-N.C.

It wasn’t that long ago that McCarthy was supposed to succeed former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio as Speaker. And then former Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., took the job – despite an adamant claim a few weeks before that he didn’t want the gig. 

Over the past 15 to20 years, there have been times when the Next GOP leader or House SpeakerEric Cantor, R.Va., was originally supposed to be the former House Majority Leader. Cantor lost his primary. Former Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) was considered as a possible successor to Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) tried to run for the leadership position a few years back.

Other names who lost the battle: Rep. Daniel Webster from Florida and ex-Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah.

This brings me to my most beloved observation about Congress. It is dependent on who ends up in which Congressional leadership positions. “particle” politics. In other words, the Congressional leaders are determined by sub-atomic, minute, and infinitely small political particles. It was hard to see how McCarthy wouldn’t become Speaker seven years ago. Yet he didn’t claim the gavel. It was difficult to imagine Ryan becoming Speaker in 2015. Yet he did.

Right now, McCarthy is the odds-on favorite to become House Speaker on January 3 next year. McCarthy is still without the votes. Thus, does someone else actually become Speaker through means which aren’t yet clear?



It’s all because of “particle politics.” 

Similar events occurred on the Democratic side. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) succeeds Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker.As the leader of the party.

The ascension of Pelosi to the presidency is a Washington game that has been played for years. Pelosi was assisted by Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who helped to form three legs for a stool that represented all wings of the House Democratic Caucus. The stool will collapse if one of its legs is removed. Pelosi was believed to be the last of the three. Pelosi and Hoyer both resigned from their leadership roles. Clyburn remains – but with a lower-profile leadership post. 

However, it took a decade to figure out who would succeed Pelosi.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on CBS'

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker in the House, is featured on CBS’s Today Show “Face the Nation.” 
(CBS News/Screenshot)

Pelosi has had a rivalry with Hoyer since they were both interns in the office of late Sen. Daniel Brewster in the 1960s. Pelosi often blocked Hoyer’s leadership bids. Pelosi endorsed the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Penn.) for Majority Leader in 2006. But Hoyer won. And Hoyer would never directly challenge Pelosi for the Democrats’ top leadership post. Hoyer was unable to win the votes and would lose. Over the years, Republicans admitted privately that they feared Hoyer as much as Pelosi as Speaker. That’s because of Hoyer’s stellar reputation of working across the aisle and not presenting the GOP with a liberal foil.

Hoyer never had the chance to take advantage of this opportunity. Clyburn was not so fortunate.

Some members of the Democratic Caucus were even concerned that Jane Harman, a former Rep. from California, might pose a threat. The two had a frosty relationship for years. Harman never raised a challenge to Pelosi. 

Harman was not around long enough to last Pelosi’s time, should the opportunity arise.

Meantime, speculation churned for years as Pelosi ushered in a series of other Democratic lieutenants who aspired to succeed her – but never got the chance because of the Speaker’s longevity.

The current Ambassador in Japan, former Chicago Mayor and White House Chief of staff, and Rep. Rahm emanuel (D-Ill) was first in the queue. Former President Obama drafted Emanuel to be Chief of Staff after assisting Democrats win control of Congress by chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 and becoming Democratic Caucus Chair.

Then came Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Van Hollen, D-Md., was present in the House at the moment but eventually moved to Senate.

For a while, the spotlight was on former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). Former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), was the Health and Human Services Secretary at the time. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) was also in the mix. But Crowley – like Cantor – eventually lost his primary to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Schiff may have been the latest possible Pelosi successor. Schiff actually started a not-so-stealthy campaign in order to possibly succeed Pelosi. Several House Democrats told Fox that Schiff wouldn’t have launched such an effort unless he had a either an implicit or explicit blessing from Pelosi. That’s partly because Pelosi and Schiff have always enjoyed a special relationship. That was on exhibit when Pelosi tasked Schiff to serve as the lead manager during former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. Schiff is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. The House Judiciary Committee chairman was traditionally the lead “prosecutor”These impeachment proceedings. Not the chairman, Intelligence Committee.

Schiff, however, was ultimately unable to get the votes to succeed Pelosi. Hakeem Jeffries D-N.Y., House Democratic Caucus Chair, has already closed the deal to succeed Pelosi through acclamation.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff does a TV interview at the Capitol on July 26, 2021.

Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gives a TV interview at Capitol on July 26, 2021.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

This is quite remarkable. Just two hours before Pelosi announced her retirement from the leadership, Jeffries didn’t respond to a question from yours truly as to if he had “a plan in a drawer somewhere” to campaign for the Democrats’ top leadership post. 

This is why it all comes down to “particle politics.” 

No one could have foreseen circumstances years ago that Jeffries would be the one who might succeed Pelosi – back when all of the focus was on Emanuel or Van Hollen.


It all boils down to hardwork. A little magic. A little bit of luck. It’s also a matter of timing.

Kevin McCarthy is now attempting to win the gavel once again. Rarely does anyone have a second chance at such a high-ranking leadership position as Speaker. But that’s the opportunity which has now come in McCarthy’s direction.

But McCarthy’s fate hinges on subatomic, political particles, now racing around the political supercollider.

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