It’s hard to watch what House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is doing to himself.

By clinging to President Trump, he’s done damage to his reputation that can never be undone. Look at the full spectrum of Trump lies, follies, paranoid fantasies (the supposed 3 million illegal votes in our state, for example), and human rights violations (see children at border), and McCarthy has defended the president.

Lately, he’s slipped into conspiratorial territory, by calling for an end to the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

He did so by echoing a false Trump attack that used an inspector general’s investigation into the Clinton email investigation to suggest that it somehow sullied Robert Mueller’s probe. It didn’t.

What’s next, Kevin? Embracing Trump’s anti-vaccine conspiracy theories? Suggesting Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.?

I spent time with McCarthy when he was an Assembly leader in Sacramento in the previous decade. He was a reality-based member who did his best to expand his party’s horizons, and protect California from the bad ideas of the majority party. The McCarty I see now in Washington seems like a zombie version of that McCarthy.

This McCarthy is embracing lies and tactics that threaten our democracy. He has no legitimate defense for his actions or his conspiracy mongering.

He may gain in the short-term politically. He might squeak through to being speaker if his party holds the House. But in the long term, he’s shown that his word is no good, and that he’s willing to collaborate with the worst of hatreds and behavior.