Cartoonists spoof Kevin McCarthy’s ‘Groundhog Day’ in the House

Cartoonists spoof Kevin McCarthy's 'Groundhog Day' in the House

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As Pia Guerra watched the Republican stalemate over the election of a House speaker, it was easy for her to find humor in history.

While Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) failed to gain enough votes through five rounds of voting Thursday — bringing the number of 11 rounds total at the time — Guerra listened to commentators refer to the process as “Groundhog Day.”

“It just made me laugh thinking of McCarthy waking up to Sonny and Cher over and over again,” says the Canadian-based cartoonist, referring to the repeating scenes from the “Groundhog Day” movie, as Bill Murray’s continuously relives the same day.

So Guerra drew McCarthy under the covers with the radio-alarm clock striking “12” as a groundhog laughs. On Friday, McCarthy fell short on the 12th round of voting.

“All this humiliation is the bed he made and now he has to wake up in it,” Guerra says. “And I doubt it will be much better if and when he becomes speaker. He’s got all these extremists to wrangle, he’s pretty much given up all his power and debased himself to the point of what?

“His legacy will be nothing like he envisioned,” she continues. “I don’t understand what he hopes to accomplish.”

Guerra is one of many cartoonists weighing in on the unfolding drama this week. Some satirized McCarthy’s dealmaking with Republican holdouts, most of whom are incoming members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus — including Lauren Boebert (Colo.), the first House Republican to vote for Florida’s Byron Donalds on Tuesday. Amid the House’s fiercest speaker vote in a century, McCarthy made “fresh concessions during late-hour negotiations Wednesday to the 20 GOP lawmakers opposing him,” The Washington Post reported.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to wait another hundred years for something like this to happen again,” says Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoonist Clay Bennett, who drew a broken GOP House gavel. “I fear that this kind of dysfunction in Washington will become as common as the once-in-a-century storms that now seem to occur with such startling regularity.”

Live updates on the speaker of the House vote

Bennett says such “over-the-top news” doesn’t make his job at the drawing board any easier: “After all, how are you supposed to satirize a satire?”

Steve Breen of the San Diego Union-Tribune rendered McCarthy as heeling to his party’s hard-liners. “There’s a big flaw in the system,” he says, “when a handful of zealots like Boebert can hold not only the party by the leash, but a whole branch of government.”

Jack Ohman of the Sacramento Bee spoofed the kinds of concessions McCarthy might be willing to make, but notes: “Seeing McCarthy animatedly engaging with Marjorie Taylor Greene on the floor, with George Santos eagerly sitting next to Greene, is the picture worth a thousand words. Not even cartoonists could capture that.”

Greene (Ga.) criticized Boebert on Thursday for her House speakership vote. Santos (NY) is under fire for lying about much of his biography.

Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though, is not parodying the GOP logjam as a circus.

“There’s been a lot of comparisons to McCarthy and House Republicans as clowns. I haven’t done a cartoon like that because it would be insulting to clowns,” says Luckovich, who drew Capitol rioters plotting not to elect a speaker.

“MAGA election-denying Trump Republicans are showing Americans in real time how dysfunctional” they are, Luckovich says. “And apparently, Kevin McCarthy’s really into humiliation.”

Kevin Kallaugher, drawing for Counterpoint Media, chose as his visual metaphor the image of McCarthy offering himself up on a platter as a talking head.

“The understated humor of the payoff line was, for me, the best way to address McCarthy’s predicament,” Kallaugher says. “His desperation to become speaker would allow him to do just about anything.”

Breen expressed one last concern on behalf of his field: “Kevin McCarthy isn’t very interesting to draw, so maybe they’ll find a speaker of the House better for cartoonists.”

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