Republican bomb-thrower Rep. Matt Gaetz has made no secret of his battles with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The Florida congressman spent Sunday morning telling national television talk show audiences he plays to try to remove McCarthy from the speaker post this week.
And if a charge he launched Saturday night has any truth to it, he’s got more ammunition than ever.
Just after 8 p.m. Saturday, Gaetz picked up on a statement from House Democrats declaring that when the House returns to business, they expect McCarthy to”advance a bill to the House Floor for an up-or-down vote” on funding to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.
Funding for Ukraine was not part of the stopgap spending bill passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Joe Biden late Saturday.
To Gaetz, the statement was proof that McCarthy had betrayed his own party, which has been leery of giving a blank check to Ukraine.
“Wow,” Gaetz wrote in a post on X, the former Twitter. “@Speaker McCarthy made a side Ukraine deal with Democrats and didn’t tell House Republicans until after his Continuing Resolution passed.
Wow.@SpeakerMcCarthy made a side Ukraine deal with Democrats and didn’t tell House Republicans until after his Continuing Resolution passed.
More deceit. https://t.co/LC91laLyTp
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) October 1, 2023
Backing up Gaetz’s suspicion, for what it’s worth, Biden on Sunday also suggested a deal had been cut, according to Reuters.
Asked at a news conference if he trusted McCarthy “in future deals,” according to Reuters, Biden responded, “We just made one about Ukraine, so we’ll find out.”
So, assuming Biden was a shade more compos mentis than his usual Thorazine Shuffle self, that sounds like there could be something to Gaetz’s charge.
If there is, or if enough Republicans believe there is, that is going to make for a long week as McCarthy tries to hold onto his job.
There are plenty of conservatives and Republicans who think — with good reason — that supporting Ukraine against the Russian war machine in 2023 is the equivalent of supporting Winston Churchill’s Great Britain against Nazi Germany in 1940.
Not only is it a moral obligation, to support a beleagued people against the evil of military aggression, it’s a strategic one, to contain an ambitious dictatorship that presents its own danger to the United States.
There are likewise plenty of conservatives and Republicans who think — with good reason — that Ukraine is a cesspool of corruption, that its government is not to be trusted with the vast American aid that has already gone to Kyiv.
There are also many who think both conditions are true — and that Democrats are cynically using the Ukraine war to set themselves up as defenders of freedom abroad while their programs are aimed at curtailing American freedoms at home (while opening the country up to its own invasion from the southern border).
All of those are defensible positions — particularly the third one.
It’s true that the Russian aggression Joe Biden invited is a special horror in the world, and natural American distaste for tyranny and sympathy for a courageous underdog make the plight of Ukrainians irresistible.
But the Democratic Party’s domestic politics — especially since the 2016 election — have poisoned the well of bipartisanship.
Abroad, the president’s shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan humiliated the United States on the world stage, but his party members backed him to a man and woman. On Ukraine, Democrats have made the country’s security a political football for years — even using it as the setting for their ludicrously lame attempt to impeach then-President Donald Trump in 2019-20.
Conservatives are supposed to believe them now?
Add to that that Republicans and conservatives the peculiarities of Biden himself — a man inextricably linked to potential corruption in Ukraine by not only his son but his own boastful words — and there’s a witches’ brew of bad faith big enough to drown even the most idealistic of American support for Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government.
And now this?
A secret McCarthy deal with Democrats over aid to Ukraine would be a good deal worse than simple disagreements over the arc of entitlement spending, say. It would be a breach of trust with his own party conference — and its voters — that the speaker would have a real problem justifying.
If it’s true, it could well send him back into the Republican ranks. If that happens, it would be a demotion that would be well-deserved not so much for deceiving his own supporters but for being dumb enough to deceive them with a political party as dishonest as the contemporary Democratic leadership, starting with the man in the Oval Office.
The next week is going to be interesting for a lot more people than Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.