Opinion: McCarthy’s lying at the border cements him as the Great Prevaricator


HR King
May 29, 2001
The Great Prevaricator stood on the banks of the Rio Grande and released a mighty river of deceit.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a news conference Monday afternoon with fellow Republican lawmakers at the southern border and in a separate interview with Fox News, misrepresented the source of illicit fentanyl. He grossly distorted a description of phones the federal government is using to track immigrants who crossed the border illegally. He teased the dubious notion that Democrats somehow obtained and leaked the audio of a private meeting he had with fellow Republican leaders.
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And then there was this showstopper: He dissembled about his own lie.

First, he claimed he wasn’t lying when he falsely denied a New York Times report that he had told colleagues after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection that he would advise President Donald Trump to resign. He suggested he misunderstood the question.

Yet McCarthy then appeared, in his garbled syntax, to repeat the original lie that he never told colleagues he planned to ask Trump to resign: “If you’re asking now, ‘Did I tell my members that we’re going to ask?’ Ask them if I told any of them that I said to President Trump. The answer is no.” (According to the audio recording of that meeting, McCarthy in fact said he was “seriously thinking” of telling Trump “it would be my recommendation you should resign.”)
James Downie: McCarthy’s border stunt reveals a dark truth about the GOP
Telling a baldfaced lie, particularly one of such magnitude, is a sign of low character. But repeating the very same lie just seconds after explaining you hadn’t told the lie in the first place is a sign of low brain activity.

Alas, this may well be the next speaker of the House.

In the kerfuffle over McCarthy getting caught on tape saying exactly the thing he adamantly denied saying, the only surprising component is that some speculate that this flagrant dishonesty might somehow cost him the speakership if Republicans retake the House.

That’s crazy talk. In this Trumpified Republican Party, lying is not a liability. To the contrary: The only truly career-damaging move a Republican lawmaker can make at the moment is to tell the truth.
McCarthy knows this firsthand. He told the truth once in 2015 — and it cost him the speakership then. He had been next in line for the job until he inadvertently said something truthful to Fox News’s Sean Hannity: that Republicans launched a probe of the Benghazi terrorist attack for the purpose of harming Hillary Clinton.

Since then, it has been fairly easy to tell when McCarthy is lying: His lips are moving. He even banished fellow Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from leadership for telling the truth about Jan. 6.
Greg Sargent: GOP handling of McCarthy’s treachery sinks to abysmal lows
There was a time when getting caught on tape lying might have ended a career. Sam Rayburn, the legendary House speaker of the mid-20th century known for his integrity, famously said that “any fellow who will cheat for you will cheat against you.”

McCarthy is the sort of man Rayburn warned of. He has been a torrent of disinformation — about his statements immediately after Jan. 6, about Biden’s tax proposals, about the Jan. 6 committee, about the economy, about covid-19 relief and about the 2020 election.

In the caucus he leads, such deceit is standard. McCarthy was joined at the border by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who in sworn testimony last week flatly denied calling Nancy Pelosi a “traitor to the country.” A lawyer then displayed the quote of Greene saying exactly that. “Oh, no, wait, hold on now,” Greene said, revising her account. She also said she didn’t recall whether she advised Trump to impose martial law after he lost the election; text messages reported Monday by CNN show her telling Trump’s chief of staff that “several” lawmakers “are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall (sic) law.”
Yet even Greene had a hard time keeping up with the Great Prevaricator on Monday. As Greene hovered off McCarthy’s shoulder, the Republican leader declared that “all” fentanyl is coming “across this border” — which must be a surprise to China and to traffickers who bring most of their product through legal entry points. McCarthy announced he had seen just-apprehended migrants “opening up the iPhones that the government was providing them” and on which it would “pay for their calls”; in reality, the devices aren’t iPhones and don’t work for purposes other than monitoring.
McCarthy then moved on to repeat last week’s lie about Jan. 6 and Trump’s resignation — which he dismissed as “something that happened 15 months ago on a private conversation.”
But 15 months later, the Great Prevaricator’s assault on truth has become a daily menace.