Kevin McCarthy just revealed the humiliating way in which he’s been sucking up to Trump

While most Democrats and a few stand-up Republicans have shown that they abhor Donald Trump, you might say that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R- Bakersfield, CA) is sweet on the president.

McCarthy recently presented a very sweet gift to the president, showing both their unusual friendship and how the House of Representatives Majority Leader has gone to great lengths to curry favor with Trump even as others have avoided him because of his many toxic politics and pronouncements. 

That special gift began as an idea McCarthy got on October 4 as he flew with Trump on Air Force One back from Las Vegas, where the president had met with victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

On the flight, the president reached for a few the candy fruit chews called Starbursts but then sorted through them to select only those that were cherry or strawberry.

“We’re there, having a little dessert, and he offers me some,” McCarthy recalled later, according to The Washington Post. “Just the red and the pink. A bit later, a couple of his aides saw me with those colors and told me, ‘Those are the president’s favorites.'”

McCarthy, who has gone out of his way to cultivate a friendship with Trump, had aides buy a supply of Starbursts a few days later and had one of them sort out only those two flavors. They were put in a jar, on which McCarthy put his name on one side.

The gift was then delivered to Trump, who according to a White House official, grinned with delight at the gift.

It may be a small gesture but it speaks to the special relationship that McCarthy, the second most powerful Republican in the House after Speaker Paul Ryan, has with Trump.

Their closeness dates back to the last stages of the 2016 election when the conventional wisdom was that Trump would lose and many Republicans were distancing themselves from him.

Not McCarthy. He began exchanging late night calls with the president, sharing information about what Congress was up to and discussing the latest news about how prospects for the election were looking.

“Trump began to refer to him as ‘my Kevin,’ a person he could trust,” reports The Washington Post.

“(Speaker Paul) Ryan is a policy wonk, and the president isn’t,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), discussing the party’s leadership. “The president picks up on Kevin being a different kind of guy, someone who speaks in analogies and uses empathy, who doesn’t really ever get emotional but doesn’t get too in the weeds, either.”

Like Trump, McCarthy doesn’t believe global warming is caused by human beings, is against abortion, wanted to destroy ObamaCare and voted for the tax legislation, but their friendship seems to go beyond that. McCarthy often travels with Trump and they even like watching movies together because both like to talk throughout the movie.

McCarthy was in the Oval Office last week when Trump made his outrageous “shithole” remark about immigration, but he has not commented on what he heard or criticized the president – as is his usual style.

McCarthy is also quick to flatter the president, and can gently push him toward or away from a position, and get away with it.

When McCarthy presented an idea recently,  he used charts and photos, not a memo, knowing Trump would not read it anyway.

In an interview, McCarthy said he sees Trump as “a swaggering icon of American business – someone who cold work ‘under budget, ahead of schedule.'” In other words, he sees Trump as Trump sees himself.

Critics charge that McCarthy is just trying to get on Trump’s good side to help his own position and show his power – or at least how close he stands to the power of the presidency – but that raises fears he is enabling Trump instead of reigning him in.

“I don’t think being a Trump sycophant is going to do much in the long run for the party or holding the majority,” Republican consultant Mike Murphy told The Washington Post. “It doesn’t change Trump’s behavior, which is imperiling the party, and we’re getting to a place where challenging him is an imperative.”

So a jar of the specific kind of candy Trump loves means more to the president than a hundred well-written memos or a brilliant policy pitch, and McCarthy has figured that out, helping create a sweet spot for himself in the current administration.

McCarthy is humiliating himself to gain power and access to the president and in the process treating Trump like a child whose views turn on who gives him candy. 

Like most authoritarian leaders, Trump likes to be surrounded by those who praise him profusely, never criticize him directly and act like they are his best friend.

The problem is that when the petty tin horn dictator finally falls, the yes men around him also finally get their due, and when that time comes for Trump – as it must – it is unlikely to be as sweet an experience for either of them.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.