Kevin McCarthy’s Exit Proves What We Already Know—the GOP Is Completely Dysfunctional
The Republican Party has become not only antigovernment but anti-governing.
House majority leader Kevin McCarthy’s abrupt exit from the race for the House speakership, coming shortly after John Boehner’s only slightly less abrupt decision to quit the job, confirms that the Speaker’s post as defined by the House Republican Caucus is no longer meaningful and that this Republican-led House of Representatives is no longer functional.
These two realities, even if they are rarely acknowledged by political and media elites, tell us more about the sorry state of the Republican Party than anything that is happening in an awkward and unsettling race for the party’s presidential nomination.
A party that once engaged in the hard-work of governing—with a sense of responsibility, and often with success—is now so at odds with the very idea of functional governance that it struggles to contribute anything more than the word “no.”
Boehner’s plan to exit at the end of October, and McCarthy’s inability even to pick up the outgoing Speaker’s broken baton, represents another triumph for an extremist inclination that has redefined the party’s congressional and presidential politics. This inclination is more anarchical than traditional, more cutthroat than conservative.
It does not really matter who wins what Congressman Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, calls a “brand new race for speaker.” The Republican Party’s mayhem has become so debilitating that the mayhem now defines the position more than the occupant.
The Grand Old Party has become the Party of Chaos. And the extent of that chaos—as evidenced by the inability of its House caucus to manage the speakership—offers a profound measure of the extent to which the Republican Party has abandoned its founding promise and its historical mission.
The first Republican speaker of the House, Nathaniel Prentice Banks of Massachusetts, took charge of the chamber less than two years after the founding of the party and immediately shook up the politics of the country by installing anti-slavery congressmen in key positions. In the most contentious of times, however, he operated as a man of the House, working with all factions, encouraging open debate and generally making the chamber work. Indeed, former Speaker Howell Cobb, a Georgia Democrat with whom Banks had no agreement on the critical issues of the day, said the Republican was “in all respects the best presiding officer [the House] had ever seen.”
The Republicans Speakers who followed Banks tended to operate as men of the House, which made a good deal of sense, as Republicans were from the Civil War era to the time of the New Deal a steady (if not constant) “natural party of government.” That did not mean that these speakers were invariably perfect, nor invariably appealing, men. They were often conservative; yet they tended to be more enlightened than the Southern segregationists and big-city machine Democrats with whom they had to contend. They made the House work, every bit as well and it some case better than did the Democrats.
There’s a good deal of evidence that Boehner would have liked to govern in that style, and that the hapless McCarthy might have been similarly inclined.
But those days are gone.
McCarthy’s collapse, which included a disastrous introduction to America as a hyper-partisan who effectively acknowledged the political purpose of the targeting of Hillary Clinton by the House’s select committee on Benghazi, is less worthy of attention than the decision of Boehner to quit.
McCarthy should never had risen as high as he did in the House caucus, and he could never have been an effective leader. That’s why he is out before he got in.
Boehner, though hardly a giant in congressional terms, is a different story. He is a more consequential figure than McCarthy, and his surrender reveals the extent of the chaos and the crisis that the GOP is now experiencing.
A product of the Ohio legislature in the 1980s, when Midwestern Republicans retained the “build-big-things” and “build-big-coalitions” mentality of governors such as Ohio’s Jim Rhodes and Michigan’s William Milliken, Boehner was a genuine social and economic conservative. But he accepted that conservatives had to operate on an ideological spectrum and within legislative chambers that functioned only if Republicans and Democrats had the freedom to cooperate. After his election to Congress in 1990 (when he beat a conservative icon who had gone off the rails, Donald “Buz” Lukens, a wild and contentious primary that I had a chance to follow closely as a young reporter for the Toledo Blade), he quickly moved into House leadership.
But the House was changing. And, more importantly, the Republican Party was transforming into something its founders and defenders over more than a century and a half could not recognize.
The Grand Old Party had actually been teetering on a chaotic cliff for a long time—as has American conservatism. William F. Buckley jettisoned the old-right values of a previous conservative Republicanism and ushered in the new era with a 1955 declaration that “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” By the early 1960s, this new right was busy discarding the trappings of the successful “modern Republicanism” of Dwight Eisenhower. Indeed, it would move so rapidly that even Buckley found himself contending against the extremists of the John Birch Society and the far right in struggles to define the GOP.
After the Goldwater debacle of 1964, Buckley and the somewhat cooler heads prevailed in the late 1960s, making a difficult peace with the likes of Richard Nixon and House Republicans such as Gerald Ford. But with the rise of the “new right” in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the party began veering toward a politics defined by a line from Ronald Reagan: “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Reagan prefaced those words with a qualifier “in this present crisis,” and actually proved to be far more committed to functional governance than his critics expected. But Republicans who imagine themselves to be heirs of Reagan now promote a politics that is not just antigovernment but anti-governing.
John Boehner, as chairman of the House Republican Conference in the 1990s (when former Speaker Newt Gingrich was beginning to blow things up), as House minority leader, as House majority leader and finally as House Speaker since 2011, was no hero. He played along with obstruction-obsessed extremists, sometimes with the false bravado of a leader who is actually following, often grudgingly. He never could serve fully as Speaker because he was saddled with the draconian “Hastert Rule”—an informal but often very real requirement outlined by former Speaker Dennis Hastert (an acolyte of wrecking-crew partisan former House majority leader Tom DeLay) that shifts control of the House agenda from the Speaker to the House Republican Caucus. Under the Hastert Rule, a Republican Speaker cannot allow a floor vote on legislation unless a majority of the Republican Caucus backs it.
The Hastert Rule prevents coalition building between responsible Republicans (and there are still a few) and Democrats, meaning that a determined right-wing minority—elected from heavily gerrymandered districts and making up little more than a quarter of the total membership of the chamber—can effectively control the flow of legislation, the debate, and the character of the House.
Under the Hastert Rule, Republican Speakers of the House become no more than caucus leaders with fancy titles. And, in the case of a weak Speakers like Hastert and Boehner, they are a little less than that, as they have often lacked the “pull” to lead the partisans in the caucus.
Boehner bristled as the Hastert Rule, violating it at critical points and working around it where possible. But as the extreme right angled for another shutdownof the federal government this fall, he was faced not only with the frustrations of the speakership but with the threat that he might be deposed.
So John Boehner is surrendering a position. And Kevin McCarthy is surrendering as a successor to that position.
But the greater surrender is that of the Republican Party. It has given up on a premise as old as the party itself: that Republican Speakers (like the best of Democratic Speakers) would lead the whole House and seek to keep the chamber functioning. John Boehner made a less-than-sufficient effort to be a Speaker of the whole House, and he need not be portrayed as any kind of hero. But his tepid regard for governing was too much for his caucus. And for a party that has no real need for a Speaker of the House because it has lost interest in what Republicans historically understood as governing.
John Nichols is writing a history of the Republican Party, which will be published by The New Press.
A wonderful example of Quirk's Rule that bureaucracies always desire to expand....ReplyDelete
October 10, 2015
Courts block EPA water rule that would put millions of acres under federal control
By Rick Moran
It's a regulation considered the most ambitious expansion of EPA's control over American waterways in history and a federal court has issued an injunction blocking its implementation.
“We conclude that petitioners have demonstrated a substantial possibility of success on the merits of their claims,” the judges wrote in their decision, explaining that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new guidelines for determining whether water is subject to federal control — based mostly on the water’s distance and connection to larger water bodies — is “at odds” with a key Supreme Court ruling.
The judges said they have yet to decide whether they have jurisdiction to review the regulation, but a stay would make it easier to determine that.
“A stay allows for a more deliberate determination whether this exercise of executive power, enabled by Congress and explicated by the Supreme Court, is proper under the dictates of federal law,” the court said.
“A stay temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new Rule and whether they will survive legal testing. A stay honors the policy of cooperative federalism that informs the Clean Water Act and must attend the shared responsibility for safeguarding the nation’s waters.”
The decision expands a stay that a North Dakota judge imposed in August, the day before the rule took effect, and that only applied to 13 states.
The EPA said it will respect the court’s decision, but it believes the rule is legal and necessary.
“The agencies respect the court’s decision to allow for more deliberate consideration of the issues in the case and we look forward to litigating the merits of the Clean Water Rule,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said.
“The Clean Water Rule was developed by the agencies to respond to an urgent need to improve and simplify the process for identifying waters that are and are not protected under the Clean Water Act, and is based on the latest science and the law,” she added.
The National Federation of Independent Business, one of the groups that sued to stop the rule, welcomed Friday’s decision.
“Small businesses everywhere this morning are breathing a sigh of relief,” Karen Harned, executive director of the group’s legal foundation, said in a statement.
The rule, if implemented, would give the EPA regulatory authority over virtually every square inch of state and private land in the country. It runs roughshod over property rights and represents a massive overreach of federal authority, unprecedented even for this president.
The federal courts usually give the EPA a lot of leeway to regulate our waterways, but this was apparently a bridge too far. The good news is that even if the court decides they have no jurisdiction to rule on the regulation, the injunction is likely to stay in place until the rule is adjudicated.
God Bless the courts.
The Democrats could all ride in a Clown Car, but they are all to old to leave the home unaided.ReplyDelete
Let's see, they've got:
Hillary the Criminal
Bernie the Commie
Drinkin' Joe the Drunk
What a FARCE
CLOWN CAR !!!!Delete
toot tooot tooooooot
Here comes the Democratic Party Clown Car -
Biden-mania shows the utter weakness of the Democratic Party's bench
Michael Brendan Dougherty
Illustrated by Jackie Friedman | Image courtesy REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
October 8, 2015
The 2016 presidential race presents a huge opportunity for the rising stars of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately for Democrats, only Joe Biden seems interested in seizing it.
Hillary Clinton's poll numbers took a nose dive in June. Her favorability ratings dropped "sharply" in August. Then they took another dive in September. Bernie Sanders, the dream candidate of socialists, is out-polling her in New Hampshire, even though no one thinks he's suitable to represent the whole party.
I've argued over and over again that Hillary Clinton is not a proven winner. Her last electoral victory came in 2006, in which she defeated a Yonkers mayor, John Spencer, not exactly a titan of the GOP. Her heavily favored presidential campaign was defeated in 2008, and in the intervening years, she has added no significant accomplishments to her resume other than a fancy job title. Indeed, she may have added more baggage given the parlous state of Libya after her "smart power" intervention there, and given the twin sagas about her home-brew email server and her conflicts of interest as secretary of state.
Hillary Clinton 2016: older, more scandal-ridden, and further out of touch.
So where is the Democratic bench? Martin O'Malley, the former governor of Maryland, is at 2 percent or less in the polls. Jim Webb, a conservative Democrat, hasn't even managed that much. Sanders is building a movement and trying to change the traditional parameters of American politics. But no one expects that he can actually assemble a coalition large enough to beat Clinton, much less a Republican.
How is it that the big potential wild card in the Democratic race is a man who has run two presidential campaigns that were not at all successful? Let's go through the record: Joe Biden had a plagiarism scandal derail one campaign, and he never got off the ground in 2008.......
It's - wait for it - it's....it's.....BidenManiaTime !!!
toot Toot TOOT !
Washington State University is giving the University of Oregon a real run for their money this afternoon.ReplyDelete
Cougars are ahead of the Ducks by four in the third quarter.....
Really interesting well played game.....
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Though it's easy to laugh at the current fiasco among the GOP in the leadership fight, it's always prudent to realize that the Speaker is the third in line to the Presidency. Face it, the president and VP attend a lot of functions together and you never know.
I bring this up only because Halloween is approaching. Can you imagine a speaker Alan West or Raul Labrador becoming president?
Raul would be GREAT.Delete
What are you, an eastern IDIOT ?
ANYONE can be Speaker of the House.....Delete
Think of it......Speaker Quirk.......shivers me timbers.....
As I recall, Raul made it to at least one 10 Scariest Congressman lists.
What a wonderful game....Cougs tied it up at 31 with one second left......overtime....ReplyDelete
No clock in overtime.....Cougs get first possession......each team gets at least one possession....Delete
Oh oh.....Oregon scores a touchdown......Cougs get one possession....Delete
First and goal from the one for the Cougs.....!Delete
2nd and goal from the one.....
Go for two !!!
This is one hell of a great college football game.....
Play under review brought to you by Barbasol for a great shave.....
Good extra point.....double overtime....Delete
They each team the ball from the thirty yard line......Delete
Cougs first and goal....
2nd and goal from the nine.....
Drama is unsupportable.....
3rd and goal from the 4......
Touchdown Cougs !!!!!!
Caught it, fumbled it in the air, another Coug caught it and ran it in....
Under review brought to by Barbasol for a great shave.....
They give each team the ball from the 25, not the 30....Delete
Touchdown stands !Delete
Cougs get the extra point.....
Ducks have one possission from the 25...
3rd and 11 from the 26 for the Ducks.....Delete
Brought down at the line of scrimmage !!
4th and nine for the Ducks......
Pass intercepted by Washington State
Cougs Win !!!!!!!
Best football game I've listened to so far this year......one hell of a great college football game, football fans !
Friggin b00bie droppings everywhere.ReplyDelete
Punky, go play Badminton.....Delete
Do you have ANY idea what a good team the University of Oregon has been lately ?Delete
Stupid question, I know......
Oregon is ok but they aren't a ranked team. Their record is something like 3-3.
Check out how they've done the last few years......Delete
When even the New York Times calls Obozo 'hallucinatory' you know things are bad.....
The Opinion Pages | Editorial
An Incoherent Syria War Strategy
By THE EDITORIAL BOARDOCT. 9, 2015
A Syrian Army offensive on Wednesday. Credit Alexander Kots/www.kp.ru, via Associated Press
The Obama administration’s $500 million initiative to train and arm so-called moderate rebels to take on the Islamic State never seemed promising when it was rolled out last year. Having acknowledged that this plan has failed — largely because Syrian opposition groups are more interested in taking on President Bashar al-Assad — the White House on Friday unveiled a plan that is even more incoherent and fraught with risk.
The Pentagon will stop putting rebel fighters through training in neighboring countries, a program that was designed to ensure that fighters were properly vetted before they could get their hands on American weapons and ammunition. The new plan will simply funnel weapons through rebel leaders who are already in the fight and appear to be making some headway.
“Obviously, this is a different approach, where we’re going to be vetting leaders as opposed to each individual fighter,” said Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s chief of policy.
The initial plan was dubious. The new one is hallucinatory............
The Times itself however offers nothing but a bromide about 'diplomatic breakthroughs' so we have an hallucinatory newspaper hallucinating about an hallucinatory President.....
And on that happy note I say
Cheers and Good Night