“One more embarrassment”: McCarthy’s shaming in California’s home town

“One more embarrassment”: McCarthy’s shaming in California’s home town

KThe hardscrabble town of Bakersfield in California’s Central Valley, where evin McCarthy grew up, has felt many bruised emotions over the last week. But that is not because of the painful path their Congressman took to become House Speaker.

Many people have reacted angrily to being in the national spotlight, even Fox News called it a “political clown show”. As McCarthy lost vote after vote, local Republicans became more defensive before eventually winning in the early hours Saturday morning. Democrats expressed concern over McCarthy’s captivity by the far-right wing of his party and especially by those who defended the violence at the US Capitol insurrection two years back.

It was a poor reflection on the city, known for its dusty, hot climate, polluted skies and large agricultural businesses, as well as the many oil wells that dot the hills. I only wish that they had stopped using the Mac. [McCarthy] “I was from Bakersfield,” Mark Pearse wrote to the newspaper. We don’t need more negative publicity.”

Pearse explained to me by telephone: “We are already in the top 10 of many negative things.” Pedestrians getting run over. The sheriff’s and police departments are shooting at and killing individuals. It’s just another embarrassment.

There has not been one person seen cheering for the celebrity in town. McCarthy’s office is located in a commercial park near a group of medical offices. It resembles a suburb fortress. There are blacked-out windows and doors, and there was a sign below the doorbell that said the only way in to get in was by calling the phone. All questions, even those about the protest that took place on January 6, were referred to McCarthy’s Washington Office by staff.

Last year, McCarthy attended Francis Parish School in Bakersfield.
Last year, McCarthy attended Francis Parish School in Bakersfield. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Cathy Abernathy was more forthcoming. She is a seasoned Republican strategist who turned down McCarthy’s request for an internship at the previous district congressman, Bill Thomas, in 1987. She hired McCarthy anyway, and groomed him for Thomas’s success in 2007.

On Friday, Abernathy was seated in front of an enormous cardboard representation of Abraham Lincoln, while Fox News reported the 13th vote count on television.

She insisted that this is Washington’s way of doing things. “It can take hours and hours before you achieve any goal… It is unfortunate that 20 people have such negative perceptions of him. He is a cheerful, happy-go-lucky and friendly man. Too bad that some mistake this for being brainless.

The Democrats took the opportunity of January 6, the anniversary, to organize a small demonstration in Bakersfield to tell anyone who would listen that McCarthy was among 147 Republican House Members who voted against Joe Biden being elected president in 2021. They quickly forgiven Donald Trump for the role he played in the Capitol riot and have sought to increase their power base in this manner ever since.

Mari Goodman said that all of it stemmed from Trump’s decision to kiss his ring,” one protester outside McCarthy’s district offices.

Laura Hardman was one of the protestors at the busy intersection of Tehachapi on January 6. She is a member of the group of 40-miles from Bakersfield, McCarthy’s District. “The leaders remain not accountable.”

Hardman stated that McCarthy’s struggle to win over House members, who are among the most vocal supporters of the rebellion, was not something she enjoyed. She said, “As a constituent of his, it is embarrassing.” He worked on some of our issues and I voted for him. However, the more he stays in Washington the farther he drifts from his district, the worse he is doing.”

Bakersfield is California's most famous place for its dry climate and extensive agricultural sector.
Bakersfield is California’s most famous place for its dry climate and extensive agricultural sector. Photo: Citizens of the Planet/UCG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

These sentiments represent a minority viewpoint in California, which prides itself in challenging the West Coast liberal stereotype. The Central Valley is home to many of the frustrations and resentments that drove Donald Trump’s rise seven years ago. Farmers and entrepreneurs complain that progressive politicians in California don’t give them the respect that they deserve.

Last week, the complaint was extended to other media outlets. Abernathy the Republican consultant said that she had picked up a condescending tone of criticism from TV producers and reporters. One person was surprised that McCarthy had not attended an Ivy League college. He graduated from California State University’s Bakersfield branch. One other person, looking for ways to differentiate Bakersfield and Los Angeles 100 miles away, suggested: “You people are grit.”

Bakersfield residents may have felt that the country was mocking them and their son. However, many others were happy to join the fun. Mark Pearse asked the salesman for insurance, “Haven’t you heard my laughing?”

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