All the Pretty Republicans

If Cormac McCarthy interpreted the humiliations of Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy in Congress, filtered through red
Getty; The Atlantic

And there were men there in attendance there with double faces, as they had been sutured one face to another with catgut and diabolic needle, and women with the nostrils of dragons.

Monstrosities of democracy they came forth in their pomp in the noon of the day. From the backwoods, from the boggy peninsulas. From the gleaming mall-lands. From the sucking swamps. Sun it did throb like a thumb in the eye of God. And the chamber was a cauldron of mockery, bepopulate with jeerers and carousers.

He would be Speaker of this chamber. O he would. Most keenly. To wield the gavel was his life’s whole grail and summit. For this he had flattered the whims of the autocrat, the golden maniac. Had stood next to him with bozo straight face when the stars themselves were shaking with awful laughter. Had prostrated himself in Florida. And was it Justice now that they refused him this office, at the last? His own people? The Floridian in particular, with luscious hair and grin infernal?

No-vote after no-vote. Negation piled upon negation. A rump, a polyp held out. Radicals. They would not. The oils of persuasion failed. The purge of his pride. Throb sun throb.

Life, he did bethink to himself. What is life? It is a flickering show, a dinged-up DVD, a lost sock behind the dryer. It is a canteen drained by bullet hole from clown’s prop-gun. See the cactus old as Nancy Pelosi. See the red, red rock and the depth of its shadow. But would he give up, would he fuck. This carcass of a process, he would see it through. Outlast humiliation, outlast intransigence, in thrall to some sheer unblinking lizard principle of survival.

Thirteen votes, each one a flaying, until only his haircut remained. He offered them everything. They took it. Fourteen votes. And at the fifteenth, with all of it given away, he did prevail. Seize the mallet. Lick the battery. And lo there were groans and grunts and celebrations in the chamber, like unto a carnality of trolls, for in victory his utter defeat had been purely and completely and in its totality consummated.