Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Speaker Boehner Re-Elected As Opponents Learn A Hard Lesson

Like many Republicans, I have been on the lookout for up and coming politicians who will step forward and lead with statesmanship, not bombastic bromides and perpetual outrage.  Happy warriors win over uncertain voters, just as those who came before us instructed, like Ronald Reagan.  There is no substitute for a well reasoned, articulate response to those who oppose us.

All this leads to the spectacle that presented itself Tuesday as the House of Representatives re-elected Speaker John Boehner. Facing a less potent threat to his re-election this year than two years ago, Boehner was nominated in November by the Republican caucus to continue on as Speaker of the House. No one moved to challenge him for that spot.

A couple of challengers emerged in the days before the vote Tuesday on the Speaker's race.  Louie Gohmert and Ted Yolo both decided to run for the job.  The problem is, neither offered a reason nor a path to victory. Both clearly were spur of the moment candidates and neither, frankly, are up to the task.  As written about HERE, if a politician wants to topple the sitting top guy, then there had better be some ground work completed in advance.  In other words, ducks need to be in a row.  Think back to the days of Newt Gingrich and the historic Republican takeover of Congress in the early 90's. There needs to be a large enough group of supporters to make it happen.

Gingrich began working with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in 1979 as part of an effort to take the majority, and later took over GOPAC. Both organizations were focused on helping elect new Members to Congress. This means that newly-elected Republicans would be indebted (and thus loyal) to Gingrich. Aside from his brilliance as a visionary thinker, Gingrich spent years assiduously cultivating support and planning for a majority.
Now, about that statesman...  

As you can imagine, the supporters of the challengers were a bit upset (sarcasm noted) about a rather easy victory for Boehner.  Some really hideous temper tantrums played out in social media, both on Twitter and Facebook, from the purists.  Frankly, they should be ashamed of themselves.  No one likes to lose but there is such as thing as losing gracefully and moving on to fight another day.

Rep Mick Mulvaney, from South Carolina, hardly a hotbed of liberalism, went into statesman mode after observing the level of crazy exhibited and posted this on his Facebook page:

There was an attempt to oust John Boehner as Speaker of the House today. I didn’t participate in it. That may make some people back home angry. I understand that, but I’ve got some experience with coup attempts against the Speaker, and what I learned two years ago factored heavily in my decision today not to join the mutiny.First, I learned two years ago that people lie about how they are going to vote. And you cannot go into this kind of fight with people you do not trust. We walked onto the floor two years ago with signed pledges – handwritten promises – from more than enough people to deny Boehner his job. But when it came time to vote, almost half of those people changed their minds – including some of those who voted against Boehner today. Fool me once, shame on you… Today was even worse: there were never enough votes to oust Boehner to begin with. On top of that, some people who had publicly said in the past that they wouldn’t vote for Boehner did just that. This was an effort driven as much by talk radio as by a thoughtful and principled effort to make a change. It was poorly considered and poorly executed, and I learned first-hand that is no way to fight a battle. This coup today was bound to fail. And in fact, it failed worse than I expected, falling 11 votes short of deposing the Speaker. At least two years ago we only failed by six.I also learned that the Floor of the House is the wrong place to have this battle. The hard truth is that we had an election for Speaker in November – just among Republicans. THAT was the time to fight. But not a single person ran against Boehner. Not one. If they had, we could’ve had a secret ballot to find out what the true level of opposition to John Boehner was. In fact, we could’ve done that as late as Monday night, on a vote of “no confidence” in the Speaker. But that didn’t happen…and at least one of the supposed challengers to Boehner today didn’t even go to the meeting last night. That told me a lot.Some people wrote me encouraging me to vote for Louie Gohmert. I like Louie, but let’s be clear: Louie Gohmert was – is – never ever going to be Speaker of the House. I respect his passion, but he isn’t a credible candidate. That was proved today by the fact that he got three votes, despite all the national media attention he managed to grab. My colleague who got the most anti-Boehner votes was Daniel Webster of Florida who got 12 votes. I like Daniel. He is a nice guy, and a good thinker…but his lifetime Heritage Action score is 60% (by comparison, mine is 91%). And this was supposed to be the savior of the conservative movement? Would the House really have been more conservative if he had won?The truth is, there was no conservative who could beat John Boehner. Period. People can ignore that, or they can wish it away, but that is reality.Some people tried to argue that voting against Boehner would give conservatives leverage, or somehow force him to lead in a more conservative fashion, even if the coup attempt failed. All I can say to that is that the exact opposite happened two years ago: conservatives were marginalized, and Boehner was even freer to work with moderates and Democrats. My guess is that the exact same thing will happen again now. And I fail to see how that helps anything that conservatives know needs to be done in Washington.I understand people’s frustration and anger over what is happening in Washington. And I also acknowledge that John Boehner may be partly to blame. But this was a fool’s errand. I am all for fighting, but I am more interested in fighting and winning than I am fighting an unwinnable battle.Finally, the most troubling accusation I have heard regarding the Boehner vote is that I have “sold out” my conservative principles. All I can say is this: take a look at my voting record. It is one of the most conservative in Congress. And I was joined today by the likes of Jim Jordan, Raul Labrador, Trey Gowdy, Mark Sanford, Trent Franks, Tom McClintock, Matt Salmon, Tom Price, Sam Johnson, and Jeb Hensarling. If I “sold out” then I did so joined by some of the most tried and tested conservative voices in Washington.I can say with 100% confidence that I have done exactly what I said I would do when I came to Washington: fight to cut spending, stop bad legislation, work to repeal Obamacare, and hold the President accountable for his actions. That will never change, and neither will I.

Makes it pretty clear, right? 

Opposition needs a plan, a willingness to do the ground work and earn the position.  How silly of these two men, in particular, to feel entitled when they have not earned it.  No politician is entitled to his/her office without accountability, that is true. However, one thing is certain about John Boehner - he knows about strategy and he knows how to work the process in the House.  He's not perfect but so far, no one else stepping forward to complain has proven to be anything better.

And those few who voted against Boehner? The ones with somewhat plum committee assignments no longer have them. That's the real world.  Apparently that consequence wasn't thought about in advance, either.  If your elected representative behaves in this manner, now is the time to demand better.

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