Will He Stay?
Speaker John Boehner marched his members to the cliff, and while their bungee cords permitted them to avert one disaster, they managed to magnify others. As I predicted here four weeks ago, Boehner wound up passing the “fiscal cliff” bill with mostly Democrat votes. We’ve seen this before, as this was merely the first sequel in a three or four-volume tale of woe. As Boehner’s competence and commitment are being questioned all over the nation, Eric Cantor is posturing to perhaps unseat Boehner, but given his track record, I wouldn’t trust him any more than the man he would replace. There’s a dire edge to all of this, and it comes in the form of the upcoming debates over the debt ceiling, but also the more immediately threatening posturing about gun control. Suicide had been the order of the day, and in the main, Boehner achieved it. We cannot permit him to take our whole country over a much more gravely threatening “cliff.”
The Republicans in the House have completely wrecked their negotiating credibility, and I cannot for one moment see how true disasters will be averted if they cannot stomach even this small fight. Meanwhile, Allen West has been unseated, so that only a few conservatives remain in the House, and as some Republicans who are moving toward independence look on in stunned disbelief at the wreckage, they’ve begun to notice that the voices of false unity and party loyalty are precisely the same shady characters who have led them into this dark abyss. If the Republican Party is to have any hope of coming back, and if indeed there remains anything in it worth preserving, it will only be with the leadership of outsiders.
As this Greek tragedy plays to a conclusion, it is important to take stock of all that the party machine has wrought. Now inoperable, it is finally possible to begin to assess all that it had rejected on the way to the ash-heap of history over which it now teeters. The party is not in its current state from a lack of “progressivism,” or from a dearth of “moderation,” but from an excess of both combined with a goodly portion of corruption mixed in for good measure. The machine did all it was able to put up a Presidential candidate that would represent its values, but not ours.
It placed in nomination a man who while being a businessman from mostly private sector experience had nevertheless spent most of the last two decades seeking public office or otherwise operating in the public sphere, and it placed as his Vice Presidential running mate a man who has in his professional career known only Washington DC. It was not a surprise to see that Congressman Paul Ryan voted for the fiscal cliff bill, since as he admitted, he liked what was in it. Think of that the next time you rationalize your support of him on the basis that he had been a “good conservative.” No, this is precisely indicative of the reasons he and Governor Romney lost.
If the wizards of the Republican Party had any brains, guts, or integrity, they would now voluntarily step aside. They would leave in shame, abandoning it to be rescued while it can by better characters. Those like Sarah Palin and Allen West among others could theoretically rescue the party, but one wonders if they should, encumbered as they would be by the legions of foul characters who would rush to hitch their wagons to the new team(s.) Everybody seems to have bought the line that such people make good trench fighters, but that they’re not leadership material for some reason, undoubtedly because such wizards can’t imagine getting out of the way.
The truth is that this may be the moment for such people of good character and principles to stand up and make themselves known. As any conservative will witness, it’s not as though we have a surplus of good leadership, and besides: People wise enough to know that sometimes the victory lies in the trenches are precisely the best leaders any cause might ever find. Still, while I doubt either of these would be the sort to hold a grudge of the sort to which I’d be prone, one wonders if they could be blamed for washing their hands of this fiasco altogether.
The other problem is that the sorry lot who runs the Republican Party in Washington DC these days is precisely the sort who never know when their day has come and gone. These are the political vermin who cling to power, with their own versions of “Baghdad Bob” telling the press(and themselves) that they’re still large and in charge. The bunker mentality with which they’re often finally beset only follows on the heals of a rousing defeat, such as the one suffered on New Year’s Day.
Naturally, the underlings immediately begin plotting to undo their leaders, gambling that in a moment of political weakness, they might exploit their positions to maximum advantage. Watch Eric Cantor over the next few days. Boehner is nervous, and so is Cantor, because if Cantor misses his moment, he will be finished, and if Boehner stumbles, Cantor will unseat him. It’s the same old dance, among the same sorry sort of characters who always vie for power when a vacuum appears, however briefly. You can bet that no matter how it turns out, they will remain fast friends.
The problem the GOP faces is larger than normal, inasmuch as they have a newly re-elected President who is seeking(and thus far succeeding) in running the table on them. Even if Obama does not win another thing for two years, he knows that his chances of taking back the House in 2014 have just improved markedly. If he’s smart, he will play carefully and rather than push an agenda that will whip the opposition into some form of unity born of frenzied resistance, he’ll leave Boehner(or Cantor) hanging way out on the limb alone for two years, get the House back, and then do all he wants and more.
If this weren’t all such a fascinating game for DC Republicans, and if they really believed they had anything personally at stake, they’d realize this and get out of the way to let others lead, but power-hungry megalomaniacs seldom do, and what we must remember is that for them, this is all about them. For Boehner, he gave no consideration to the damage this fiscal cliff bill would do to the nation, but instead only worried how it would look if it didn’t pass. Cantor and others will undoubtedly see this as an opportunity, one they will pursue if Boehner looks weakened in the light of Thursday morning. That’s the ugly underbelly of Washington DC, and indeed every seat of government, because true public servants are rare creatures of inestimable worth. The wretched fools now dominating party politics are contrarily all but worthless.
I’ve said as much in my first post of the year: This is a year for choosing, and we must choose between cowardice and courage. We cannot prevail with the former, only the latter offering any chance at a start toward national restoration. No politician is perfect, as no human is infallible, but in the evaluation of their worthiness for the job, the single most important issue remains one of character. You see, we can all make errors in judgment, and we can all make faulty decisions based on incomplete or incorrect information. It is only in character that you discern those who will work to be morally infallible, because one’s moral bearing is a choice. Therein lies the deep secret to rescuing the GOP, or even the country, if either remains possible, because it is only with people who strive to make the right choice each time they face one that there is any hope.
Boehner’s current weakness leaves open a chance to bring in the sort of outsider who stands at least a chance of cleaning things up. Many people have suggested Sarah Palin for the Speaker’s job, but while she spent much of her time as Governor of Alaska battling the corrupt insiders in her own party, she did so with the authority and support of the people accorded to a chief executive. While she undoubtedly possesses the skills, she would be wasted on the speakership when there are higher offices for which she is better prepared. Still, if there is a complete outsider who could pull it off, it would be one of her temperament and diligence. Others have suggested bringing Newt Gingrich out of mothballs to take on this task, and I know those making the suggestion intend a compliment in so saying, but I think the former Speaker is fine with the notion of leaving it that way. More frequently, I hear(and have once made) the suggestion of Allen West. West would likely bring the sort of no-nonsense leadership that the herd of Republican cats would need to accomplish anything useful at all. His military experience would probably assist him well, as I suspect any outsider taking this on would need most of all a firm boot, and the willingness to extend it both firmly and frequently.
Others continue to suggest Cantor, who I wouldn’t trust with the proverbial potato-gun, and a few more have suggested Ryan given his experience as Budget Committee Chairman, although given yesterday’s vote, I still believe he hasn’t the strength of principles to whip this crowd into shape. This Republican majority is adrift on an unprincipled sea, and it will take somebody of firm commitment to gather this flock. I haven’t the sense that Cantor is capable of any of it, and I don’t believe Paul Ryan will fair any better.
At this hour, there are rumors that Boehner will quit as early as tonight, but I’ll believe that when I see it. For all we know, he’s just trying to draw out his adversaries into the open. At the moment, there will be any number quietly plotting against him, and they’d be easier to overcome if he knows their identities, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find the source of the rumors had been him. Naturally, it could also be a sort of trial balloon put up by any member, or even staffer, trying to see if there is the sufficient sentiment to provide an opportunity for promotion after all.
Others in Washington are hedging their bets, or mending their fences. Consider that Grover Norquist is now engaged in rationalizing a victory from this shocking defeat, and others in the DC establishment are trying to cast this as a less thorough defeat. Listen to them if it suits you, but remember that this same crowd assured us that George HW Bush wouldn’t pay a price for his “Read my lips” pledge, despite the fact that in 1992, he most assuredly did. This is what happens when a party or a leader forgets the principles that placed them in power. In one last-minute appeal to the “knuckle-draggers,” it was leaked that Boehner had told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “Go f… yourself.” Twice! As if this would be some sort of consolation, we are supposed to lap that up as evidence that he was battling for us.
If you’re reading these musings, wondering what might really be going on inside this den of thieves, join the club. Here is what I know with certainty: I have contacted my member and urged him to push Boehner out, and to find somebody other than Cantor to replace him. I will be heard, whether it will have any effect, and you should be heard as well. Just because the GOP committed electoral suicide yesterday does not mean conservatives ought to ride with them to the silted bottom. There is an opportunity in this for us as well, and it’s high time we make the most of it. If politics – like nature – truly abhors a vacuum, let us fill it with conservatism for a change.
Come Thursday, Boehner must go if we can manage it.