Though the process of electing Kevin McCarthy speaker of the House was fraught with tension and delay, it was not until a shocking image emerged of Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) with what appeared to be his bloody knuckles that some speculated that the ordeal may have been even more heated than initially believed.
A still clip from a video showing Crenshaw in conversation with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) began making the rounds on social media shortly after the Texas lawmaker referred to McCarthy's GOP opponents as “terrorists.”
During Friday night's particularly difficult session in which McCarthy lost the 14th round of balloting, it remained unclear whether a sufficient number of conservative holdouts against his candidacy could be swayed to his side.
The group of dissidents, spearheaded by Gaetz, appeared to be standing firm in their demands for concessions from the speaker hopeful, a tactic that prompted Crenshaw to declare them “charlatans” and “enemies” whose conduct was akin to terrorism, as the Daily Mail reported.
It was during that angst-filled evening that Crenshaw was spotted in the chamber with a set of painful-looking bloody markings on his hands.
— John The Second 🇺🇸 (@johnny2sticks) January 7, 2023
The sight of the congressman's knuckles prompted some members of the Twitterverse to hypothesize that he had smashed his hands something in frustration over the speakership stalemate and was simply displaying his battle scars, with platform user @atlantabobby1 saying, “I'd like to see a pic of the door or wall Crenshaw punched.”
With the speaker's race finally settled to his satisfaction, Crenshaw ultimately issued something of an apology to those he targeted, appearing on CNN's State of the Union and attempting to clear the air regarding the insult he lobbed.
“To the extent that I have colleagues that were offended by it, I sincerely apologize to them,” Crenshaw began.
Aiming to make amends with certain GOP colleagues, the lawmaker continued, “I don't want them to think I actually believe they're terrorists. It's clearly a turn of phrase that you use in what is an intransigent negotiation.”
Crenshaw did, however, seem a little surprised by the seriousness with which his words were received by folks on his side of the aisle, saying, “Look, I have got pretty thick skin. I'm called awful, vile things by the – kind of the very same wing of the party that I'm fighting, I was fighting at that moment. So, I was a little taken aback by the...sensitivity of it.”
As the Daily Mail further noted, Crenshaw tried to make clear that his beef with some of the Republican holdouts had less to do with their substantive demands of McCarthy than with the manner in which they were raised.
“There was no reason for us to keep voting, keep voting, allowing these speeches that just degraded and diminished and insulted Kevin McCarthy. We didn't have to keep doing that,” argued Crenshaw. “We could have just adjourned for the whole week and just kept negotiating...So that's where the heartburn is.”
Considering that Friday evening also saw a volatile encounter in which Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) had to be physically restrained when in the presence of Gaetz, it remains to be seen whether Republicans in the House can put recent unpleasantness aside and begin doing the job voters sent them to D.C. to do.