The Odd Connection Between Kevin McCarthy And Lettuce

Since Congress reconvened on January 3, citizens and CSPAN have been glued to the House floor, watching as Republicans repeatedly tried (and failed) to elect a new Speaker of the House. Having gained a slight majority in the United States House of Representatives during the 2022 midterms — 222-213 in favor of the GOP — Republicans were less-than-enthused to support their House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, in his bid for Speaker. Despite making concession upon concession to sway his detractors, McCarthy failed to meet the 218-vote threshold 14 times, sending the media and the House floor into a frenzy each time (and birthing the first meme-worthy event of 2023). But, after four days of disarray, McCarthy finally gained the votes he needed in the wee hours of January 7 to become the 55th Speaker of the House, according to CNBC.

"I hope one thing is clear after this week: I will never give up," McCarthy said in his victory speech, per Fox News. "You know — my father always told me: It's not how you start, it's how you finish. And now we need to finish strong for the American people." But McCarthy's tenure isn't exactly up to him, as one of his concessions would make it easier to oust the Speaker. According to The Hill, one single lawmaker can now motion to begin the process of removing the Speaker from their role. And, as Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska told the outlet, this new rule "weakens" the Speaker's position within the House.

Does that mean McCarthy could be back where he started at any moment? Lettuce see...

Kevin McCarthy receives the Liz Truss treatment

Much like Liz Truss' time as prime minister of the United Kingdom, some U.S. citizens are convinced that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy's days are numbered. Initially inspired by The Economist's line noting that Truss' grip on power amounted to no more than seven days, or, "roughly the shelf-life of a lettuce," British tabloid the Daily Star launched a live feed that monitored a generic head of lettuce's slow demise alongside a framed photograph of Truss, according to The New York Times. As many expected (and maybe hoped?), the lettuce did outlive Truss' time as leader of the Conservative Party, as she resigned after only 44 days on the job. And now McCarthy faces the same fate.

Mimicking the Daily Star's viral joke, The Lincoln Project, a political action committee founded in an effort to prevent former president Donald Trump's 2020 re-election, recreated the Truss setup by placing a framed photograph of McCarthy next to a head of lettuce — googly eyes included. "Who will last longer?" the PAC wrote on Twitter ahead of the first Speaker vote on January 3. While we're not sure if the lettuce gag was only set in motion to emphasize the lengthy election process or McCarthy's then-pending tenure as Speaker overall, there have seemingly been no updates on the lettuce's status. However, The Lincoln Project did make its feelings on McCarthy's so-called "win" known. 

"The ridiculous fight that paralyzed Congress for days is only the beginning of the chaos and dysfunction that is to come," the PAC said in a statement. We only hope The Lincoln Project will issue a similar statement about the lettuce soon, too.