This Just In – Hollywood warned us.
In 1990, then-adorable Macauley Culkin portray the equally adorable and mischievous 8-year-old Kevin who is sent to sleep in the attic in his family’s home the night before their departure for Paris. When a storm overnight knocks out the power momentarily, all the alarm clocks are reset and the entire family oversleeps. Yes … long before smartphones.
In the scramble to make their flight for Christmas in Paris, Kevin’s family (siblings, parents and cousins) leaves him behind. We are asked to ignore that his affluent parents aren’t clever enough to notice an extra ticket or the absence of their youngest child.
Counting is hard.
This brings us to the key moment in the film as Catherine O’Hara (who plays Kevin’s mother) looks straight into the camera and screams “Kevin!” setting up the entire premise. Kevin will be home alone for at least a couple of days … his parents must wait to land in Paris before taking any action.
As we come to meet Kevin, we see that he is a very clever little boy. He can order food to be delivered and figure out how to pay for it. He enjoys bouncing on the beds (normally prohibited) and after scraping his face with his father’s razor, his splash of aftershave gives us his most memorable on-screen moment – hands on his cheeks, squealing from the sting of astringent.
When the dopey burglars come to call, Kevin realizes that he must take action to defend his home. Spilling all his Legos in the entryway might have bought him a couple of days, but he is creative and determined.
There is, of course, an especially satisfying tear-jerking resolution to the film. The bad guys are arrested, Mom flies back to suburban Chicago immediately and reunites with Kevin and the family home is defended from criminals. Kevin’s family appreciates their blessings, of which there are many.
You know where this is going. Last week, Kevin McCarthy (R-California), was left to his own devices in securing the Speakership of the House of Representatives. What unfolded before us was an episode of Desperate House Members that I hope is never re-run during sweeps.
Across 13 ballots, McCarthy made no progress in drawing closer to winning a majority of members. His efforts resulted in 201 votes of his 222-member caucus. Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat Minority Leader, secured unanimous votes (212 members) from his caucus on every ballot.
Again and again, across several days, the House voted and every time, the cuckoo caucus of 21 Republicans, led by Matt Gaetz, held the Congress hostage. There is no House of Representatives until a Speaker is elected, so Gaetz issued his demands to McCarthy and just kept waiting until he got everything he wanted.
Unlike 8-year-old Kevin in the Christmas movie, McCarthy did not lift a finger to protect his House. He gave plum committee assignments to members who participated in the January 6th insurrection. Not just voting against certification (as McCarthy did) … no, these were people like Jim Jordan and Scott Perry who likely committed crimes in cooperation with and in the planning of the attack on the Capitol.
Perry’s cell phone was seized by the FBI last year. Jordan was subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee but refused to cooperate. He will now chair the House Judiciary Committee.
McCarthy could have spoken to Hakeem Jeffries and said “I’ve got these radicals who are violating the rules of our caucus and blocking my election as Speaker. What can we do together to defend the House against this kind of extortion? Let’s make a deal.”
Nope. If McCarthy was 8-year-old Kevin in the movie, he would have opened the front door, invited the burglars in, shown them where the family silver and anything valuable was stored, given over the keys to the cars and gone to his parents’ room (now his domain) to watch TV.
McCarthy not only agreed to establish a Judiciary subcommittee intended to obstruct active, existing criminal investigations, he’s going to put one of the targets (Rep. Perry) on the committee – to have congressional oversight into himself.
It’s important to bear in mind that Desperate House Members won’t be a hit show (though it will rhyme closely with “hit show”). Americans are tired of this dysfunction and recklessness. In its last gasp of clinging to power for its own sake, the GOP is going to deliver more and more proof with every passing day, that the party’s legitimacy is over.
Jean Bolduc is a freelance writer and the host of the Weekend Watercooler on 97.9 The Hill. She is the author of “African Americans of Durham & Orange Counties: An Oral History” (History Press, 2016) and has served on Orange County’s Human Relations Commission, The Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina, the Orange County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, and the Orange County Schools’ Equity Task Force. She was a featured columnist and reporter for the Chapel Hill Herald and the News & Observer.
Readers can reach Jean via email – firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter @JeanBolduc
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