An image of Eric Swalwell and an image of Kevin McCarthy, both yelling

Eric Swalwell and Kevin McCarthy Got Into a Battle of (Very Bad!) Words

Swalwell vs. McCarthy!

An ongoing feud between two Californian lawmakers continues to reach new heights. New details have emerged about a ‘war of the words’ between Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and Democrat Eric Swalwell. The two have had a rather rocky relationship for months, especially since McCarthy’s embarrassing rise to the speakership. Shortly after being tepidly elected, McCarthy removed Swalwell from the incredibly important House Intelligence Committee after being targeted by—and, according to Republicans’ apparently unsubstantiated accusations, having a romantic relationship with—a Chinese spy. 

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The bad blood elevated last month when Republicans voted to censure fellow Californian Democrat Adam Schiff for, essentially, being too mean to Donald Trump. Regardless of the so-called merit of this censure, I am sure Republicans were eager anyway to try and politically harm Schiff, who is also currently running for United States Senate. Now if you saw the footage of the House floor, you may have heard shouts of “shame” coming from Democratic congressmen and women; however, Swalwell allegedly took it to another level. According to sources who spoke to The Daily Beast, the Democratic Representative said that the censure was “pathetic” and called Speaker McCarthy a “weak man.” McCarthy, according to the same sources, stared at Swalwell angrily before walking away. But it gets better! Or worse … depending!

The day after the censure incident, India’s Prime Minister Modi had a speech before joint members of Congress. This was a big deal for the two countries and the geopolitical world as a whole; India has a lot of up-and-coming power as the newly most populous country on earth. And of course, the United States wants to strike a strategic balance with the government and people of India, while maintaining its commitment to human rights.

But enough about important things that matter! Apparently, Speaker McCarthy came up to Swalwell outside of the chambers before the speech. According to The Daily Beast, he caught the Democrat en route to the bathroom and told him, “If you ever say something like that to me again, I’m gonna kick the s*** out of you.” Very classy! Witnesses said that it looked like they were close to each other at this moment, almost face-to-face. Perhaps most interesting though, is that sources say that Swalwell responded to McCarthy’s threat by calling the Republican a p*ssy.

Yes, he used that word. No, not a synonym. He used that exact word as an insult directed at the Speaker of the House. The Daily Beast’s sources even reportedly described Swalwell’s delivery of the line in the exact same cadence: “You. Are. A. P*ssy.” Now, we could argue about the problematic gendered nature of such a word, but it is hard to argue that McCarthy doesn’t deserve the title!

There is something to say about the lack of decorum in Congress and with our politicians, in general, these days. Part of me likes the fantasy that our leaders are better than us—that they don’t hurl curse words or fists at every feeling of anger. I want to admire our politicians and believe that they have not just standard intelligence, but emotional intelligence as well. But the other part of me recognizes that one party has completely coddled the worst factions of society, sought to codify (and often successfully) downright bigotry, and oh yeah, supported a President who is indicted for multiple felonies and tried to overthrow our government. (And is currently leading their party in the polls again.) How polite can politicians actually be with these people? 

That is a large question I think we will have to grapple with as we continue with a two-party system wherein one party just isn’t rational or moral. Sure McCarthy and Swalwell may have let their male egos get the best of them throughout this feud, but this is not exactly an isolated incident. What about the incident with Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Lauren Boebert? In late June, on the House Floor, Greene infamously called Boebert a “little bitch.” We can’t blame that on male egos! So what? It seems like politics is just a terrible reflection of society at large, and too often the negative reflects a little brighter than the positive. 

It is hard to see where the battle of words between McCarthy and Swalwell goes from here. McCarthy doesn’t appear to have a lot of friends in his own party, so I am sure there’s no incentive for Swalwell to ease up on the guy. And McCarthy already has a perceived “weakness” problem, after cowering to some of the most egregious people in Congress in order to gain the number of votes needed for his Speaker of the House candidacy. So he cannot let up now! Hopefully, no matter what happens, these two men keep it to just verbal altercations. As much as our political discourse has been debased, I’d like to think we are still above any fistfights. This isn’t the 1800s!

(featured image: Sean Rayford/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


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