The Man Who Would Be Speaker: The Kevin McCarthy Debacle
Well, that was fun! The 118th Congress kicked off with a bang on January 3rd, and an impressive showing of just how incapable of governing the House GOP majority truly is. Far from running the country, they couldn’t even pick a Speaker! Pardon me while I indulge in a bit of schadenfreude, a marvelously descriptive turn of phrase which in German means “shameful joy,” taking pleasure in the misfortune of another. I really should be mourning the tragic state of politics in America, and I do, truly. But somehow, I can’t help smiling at Kevin McCarthy’s discomfiture.
Speaker McCarthy is perhaps the emptiest suit in Washington, and that’s saying quite a lot. Last man standing among the much-vaunted GOP “Young Guns” of 2010, McCarthy has wanted the top job in the US House of Representatives for a long time. Defeated in an earlier bid for Speaker in 2015, when fellow “Gun” Paul Ryan nabbed the gavel, McCarthy very nearly failed to pull it off a second time, requiring 15 ballots to wear down the resistance of 20 “never-Kevin” GOP members determined to deny him his victory. In a House divided 222-212 in Republicans’ favor, McCarthy could only lose four votes from his own caucus to get elected, so the odds of attaining his goal seemed insurmountable.
In vote after vote, day after day, McCarthy came away defeated, and the 118th Congress couldn’t even begin. Choosing a Speaker is Job One for every new congress; until that happens, members can’t even be sworn, no legislation proposed, no business transacted. The Democrats remained united around incoming Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and for most of the voting, he actually led McCarthy in the count, 212 – 202, adding further humiliation to the former Minority Leader’s position. It had been 100 years exactly since the election of a House Speaker took more than a single ballot and over 200 since it went as far as this, but in the dark of night on January 7th, Kevin McCarthy finally caught his dream.
And found it to be a nightmare.
The concessions he has had to make to clinch the deal (including allowing a single member to call for a vote requiring him to vacate his office, at any time, for any reason) have turned wrangling the slim Republican majority, already a headache, into an almost impossible task. Of course, Nancy Pelosi managed the feat with exactly the same number in her majority in the last Congress, but then, Kevin is no Nancy.
Let’s take a look at the raw celestial material McCarthy has to work with, and catch a few glimpses into the origins of his struggle for the Speakership, and how it was resolved. Like a presidential administration, every new Congress is mandated by Constitutional fiat to commence at noon Eastern time on January 3rd of odd-numbered years, whatever backstage shenanigans occur that might prevent its actual start.
In 2023 a chart cast for that moment in Washington DC shows an Ascendant of 18 Aries, conjoined by TNO Eris at 23 Aries and asteroid NOT at 12 Aries, opposed asteroid America at 19 Libra on the 18 Libra Descendant. The Sun at 12 Capricorn conjoins the 10 Capricorn Midheaven, along with asteroid Karma at 11 Cap.
This depicts a public face (Ascendant) focused on division, strife and fractious squabbling (all Eris), with a highly contrarian streak (NOT), in direct contravention (opposition) of the wishes of the American people (America). It’s time to pay the piper for past transgressions (Karma) and the Congress will be very focused on this (Sun), with such vital work as investigations into Hunter Biden’s laptop. But there will be plenty of comeuppance to go around, and from the perspective of McCarthy and other “establishment” Republicans, the karmic payback is about to come in the form of the radicals and nutjobs they fostered to gain their majority, who are now wagging the dog. The Sun squared NOT suggests a Congress which achieves little: even should the GOP get its act together and pass legislation, they have to get it past a Democrat-ruled Senate and somehow find a signature from Joe Biden for it to become law. Not likely.
While these placements well describe the first week of this Congress, with its hardnosed politics and hardscrabble path for the Speaker to tread, let’s be plain – they remain in effect throughout. This is the overriding energy of the next two years: division and disorder, and a lack of accomplishment.
Kevin McCarthy’s precarious position and the impasse in which he found himself are stunningly portrayed by asteroid McCarthy’s celestial stance. At 20 Virgo, McCarthy is at its station degree, a point of alteration which indicates a literal “change of direction” for the new House Speaker. Either way, had he lost his bid for power or easily achieved it, this week was going to mark a major shift in McCarthy’s life, predicted by his celestial namesake’s station.
But why did it take so long? That can be explained by McCarthy’s near neighbor in the skies – asteroid Sisyphus, which at 23 Virgo was also at station. In fact, Sisyphus turned retrograde on January 2nd, the very day before the recalcitrant Congress was set to convene, putting it in a position to exert maximum influence on the proceedings.
Sisyphus is named for that denizen of Hades doomed to forever roll a rock uphill, only to have it roll back down again, thus necessitating an eternal repetition of the task. As such, it represents pointless, repetitive action; wasted effort; continual struggle against impossible odds; failure to reach the goal. We couldn’t ask for a better cosmic clarifier of McCarthy’s situation.
And not just that – McCarthy with Sisyphus headlines a Grand Cross, consisting of an opposition to Neptune at 22 Pisces (noted for disappointments, wishful thinking, an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and difficulty finding focus) and squares to asteroid House at 24 Sagittarius and asteroid Fanatica at 20 Gemini with TNO Chaos at 29 Gemini. We’re at a level of astrology now that threatens to descend into parody.
Imagine that – the new House Speaker (McCarthy) shown stuck in an endless loop of repetition (Sisyphus), while grappling with personal disappointments (Neptune) stemming from disorder and anarchy (Chaos) in the legislative body he hopes to lead (House), created by political zealots (Fanatica).
And again, this isn’t just a descriptor of those first chaotic days – it applies to the entirety of the 118th Congress. Even if we take McCarthy out of the equation, we’re still left with a lower chamber (House) in turmoil (Chaos) and confusion (Neptune), with an unhealthy focus on fanaticism and zealotry (both Fanatica) from members determined to create mayhem and havoc (also Chaos). Chaos is also squared out-of-Sign to an exact pairing of Jupiter and asteroid Nemesis at 1 Aries, which in itself suggests ruin or downfall (Nemesis) in a political context (Jupiter). Uranus on their midpoint at 15 Taurus, semisquare to each, does nothing to soothe troubled waters, adding its patented brand of volatility, controversy and shock therapy to the mix.
Also of note, an exact opposition from asteroid Washingtonia at 8 Sagittarius to Mars at 8 Gemini, spelling conflict, argument and hostility, perhaps outright violence, as major themes in the capital (Washingtonia). Such was already almost the case, when a frustrated McCarthy supporter, Mike Rogers (R-AL) lunged at hold-out Matt Gaetz (R-FL) after the latter’s refusal to change his vote cost McCarthy a victory on the 14th ballot, and had to be restrained from physically attacking him. This was depicted celestially by asteroid Rogers at 20 Aries, the McCarthy supporter, conjunct asteroid McCarthy at 28 Aries, opposed asteroid Gateswest (with “Gates” a phonetic match for “Gaetz”) at 22 Libra, showing their antagonism.
Yes, McCarthy has a second celestial namesake, in the form of asteroid Kevin, which at 28 Aries is broadly conjunct the 18 Aries Ascendant, making him the face of the new Congress to the American people, as any Speaker would be. But Kevin is also tightly squared to Pluto at 27 Capricorn, insinuating a certain life-and-death intensity to McCarthy’s new role, with power plays, scandals, manipulation and coercion tactics, all on the menu.
By the time McCarthy finally won his office when the 15th ballot was officially recorded at 12:37 AM EST on January 7th, the original chart had flipped on itself, with a 19 Libra Ascendant and asteroid McCarthy now conjoined the Descendant at 19 Aries, having now resolved his relationship issues (Descendant) with his own caucus. The Moon at 19 Cancer makes this a precise T-Square, with a full Grand Cross filled in by the Sun/Mercury conjunction at 16 and 17 Capricorn: there was a Speaker (Mercury) in the People’s (Moon) House at last.
A review of Kevin McCarthy’s birth chart seems to indicate that the Speakership was never in doubt for him, despite many setbacks along the way. Born 26 January 1965 at 12:40 PM PST in Bakersfield, California (Rodden Rating AA), McCarthy’s pull toward DC is obvious, with the 6 Aquarius Sun trine a stationary asteroid Washingtonia at 13 Libra, virtually compelling McCarthy’s migration to the capital at some point in his life. Stationary bodies exert a greater-than-typical influence on the character or biography of the individual, and can become the still points upon which the rest of the chart revolves.
With asteroid Fortuna at 5 Libra conjoined Washingtonia, also at station and also trine the Sun, McCarthy’s luck and fortune are tied to his experiences there. But here’s the rub – Fortuna is both good and bad fortune! She represents the turns and twists of Fate, one time up, another time down, as she spins her wheel. So having her conjunct Washingtonia is hardly unreservedly positive, and can sometimes result in a mix of both good and bad elements at once – lovely to be Speaker, and have achieved your life’s ambition, but now you have to do a thankless job! Washingtonia and Fortuna both turned retrograde the same day, one after McCarthy’s birth, forging another link between DC and his ultimate fate.
Also in this region, but not yet at its station degree, is asteroid Gunn at 9 Libra, trine the Sun, an apt placement for the self-described “Young Gun” who saw himself as one of a trio of “new Republicans” when he burst onto the congressional scene in 2007.
Gunn may be a good marker for McCarthy, but what about those eponymous matching PNAs (Personal-Named Asteroids) – how do they fit into his chart? Asteroid Kevin at 3 Sagittarius is an exact match for the natal Moon, conforming to the common placement of one’s own PNAs, which typically interact with the Sun, Moon, Ascendant or Mercury (as ruling the naming function). As it happens, asteroid Kevin fulfills all four circumstances, conjunct the Moon, opposed the 4 Gemini Ascendant, sextile the 6 Aquarius Sun and exactly semisquare Mercury at 18 Capricorn.
There’s also an exact square to Saturn at 3 Pisces, which you’d think would give McCarthy more of a backbone, except for the fluidity of the water-ruling Moon, which adapts itself to any container in which it is placed, and is itself changeable over time, waxing and waning in its cycle. At any rate, the Saturn connection reinforces McCarthy’s bent toward conservatism.
And speaking of Saturn, that’s also the region where we find asteroids McCarthy and House, at 24 and 29 Aquarius respectively. This conglomeration suggests a government leadership role (both Saturn) for McCarthy (McCarthy) at some point, specifically in the Congress (House). And with Saturn semisquare to Mercury, the job of Speaker (Mercury) was always on offer, cosmically speaking. An opposition from Saturn to asteroid Nemesis at 1 Virgo suggests McCarthy is his own worst enemy at work.
This may in part be fallout from another opposition, that of asteroid McCarthy at 24 Aquarius to asteroid Lie at 20 Leo; much of his caucus distrusts McCarthy, which is why they wanted to put him in the metaphoric “straight jacket” described by opponent Matt Gaetz, imposing constraining conditions he can’t later wriggle out of easily.
But on some level, winning is in McCarthy’s blood, with validating, optimistic asteroid Yes exactly conjunct asteroid Victoria (named for the Roman goddess of victory) at 4 Aries. Yet even here, the specter of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” raises its head, in the form of natal asteroid Sisyphus close beside this pair at 6 Aries, suggesting repeated attempts at success. It may take awhile, but McCarthy usually wins through to his goal.
Also just within range of this grouping are TNOs Eris and Chaos at 10 and 13 Aries, mirroring their importance in the chart of the 118th Congress he will try to lead. With Nike, named for the Greek goddess of victory, in square to these from 11 Cancer, we might say that McCarthy’s victory was in some sense born from the fractiousness and anarchy of the GOP caucus.
But it was timing that was key to the final victory. With the transit Sun at 12 Capricorn opposed natal Victoria, and transit Nike exactly conjoined it when the 118th Congress was called into being, it looked a safe bet that McCarthy would win, but it took four more days, until that Sun had aligned perfectly with an exact natal trine from asteroid Karma at 16 Capricorn to Jupiter at 16 Taurus, before the deal could be sealed. Jupiter, AKA the “Greater Benefic,” had come through for McCarthy at the eleventh hour, and translated him to the fate that had been awaiting him since birth.
As a buff of classic horror and sci-fi films, it’s sometimes hard for me to distinguish between this Kevin McCarthy and his same-named cinematic doppelganger, star of the 1956 cult film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” In that movie, alien plant spores have invaded a small California town, and produce large pods which eventually form exact copies of the local residents, complete with their memories and personalities, but lacking human emotion. Inevitably, these replicants replace the originals, with only the actor Kevin McCarthy standing between them and global domination.
It seems to me, looking at what this Kevin McCarthy is facing over the next two years, he may well hope for just such a resolution.
One comment, add yours.
The stations of both McCarthy and Sisyphus conjunct each other are incredible! And I think you are right about the next two years for the House as a whole. It will be interesting to watch! Great post! Thanks Alex!