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“Burning Down The House”: Newt Gingrich’s Mean-Spirited Republican Party Lives On In Donald Trump And The House GOP

This is the House that Newt Gingrich built as speaker, in front of us, still alive and well. The house that Donald Trump is building for us all will feel a lot like Newt’s, but more palatial, with more gold “TRUMP” signs all over.

Trump’s leading presidential candidacy is no fluke, but the direct result of Gingrich’s fiery ascent to House speaker in the 1994 Republican revolution. Fueling each: angry white men who feel disenchanted by the political order. They make a potent force, and the rest of us should beware and prepare.

The House that Newt built in 1995 was full of angry white Republican men, the majority that ran on the so-called “Contract with America.” I saw the whites of their eyes in the Speaker’s Lobby off the floor. As a rookie reporter, I liked to ask them to tell me their favorite points of the contract – if they even remembered them. Often, they didn’t.

Policy was not their strong point, as they stormed the house of American democracy. Many in the new majority were from the South and Midwest. Gingrich personally recruited them to be candidates.

One other thing stood out: They did not accept the constitutional authority of the president. Especially not Bill Clinton. They came loaded for Clinton – the fire of their fury daily stoked by Rush Limbaugh, who was honored as the class of 1994 mascot at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Yeah, they lavished love on one of the best haters of our time. It was remarkable to witness.

John Boehner, the shallow House speaker who’s stepping down soon, was a lieutenant in Newt’s army, which came to power 20 years ago. He was more than just a placeholder for Gingrich’s Republican revolution; he supported its churlish know-nothingness toward immigrants and women’s rights, and its insurrections against the president – this time, Barack Obama. The press tends to paint him as a sympathetic son of an Ohio “barkeep,” but he’s just one of the boys.

The wind blowing the aggressive Trump into his confounding first place in the Republican primary trails? It’s all in that tornado in November 1994. Overnight, the House and the Senate changed hands to Republican control. The sea change was stronger in the House. It was remarkable to witness and worth remembering.

Brazen and mean-spirited, the House class of 1994 came to Washington ready to burn down the House. An anti-government force, many slept in their congressional offices. It’s a charming Republican custom and another way to disrespect Washington. As Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who almost became speaker, would tell you: Don’t ever act like you belong here, to this House.

McCarthy got consumed by the beast Newt started: The House Republicans seem to hate governing so much that they can’t govern themselves. Meanwhile, Trump still sails on the winds of rage.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, October 13, 2015

October 15, 2015 Posted by | House Freedom Caucus, Newt Gingrich, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Genuinely Dangerous Situation”: The Republican Party’s Dysfunction Is An Embarrassment To Us All

The movement within the House Republican conference to make Paul Ryan the next speaker has evolved into a desperate clamor, with members from almost every faction practically begging him to enter the race.

Ryan remains reluctant, if not quite Shermanesque in his reluctance, and for obvious reasons. Ryan has political ambitions beyond the House, but knows that the speakership is an office built to destroy a Republican leader’s partisan bona fides. Ryan is a great theoretical fit for the speakership, because he shares the right’s ideological extremism and the party establishment’s pragmatism, but stands to lose his good will with conservatives the instant he applies that pragmatism to funding the government or increasing the debt limit.

Under the circumstances, the only way for him to occupy the speakership without cashing in all his political stock would be to bring the House Freedom Caucus to heel in advance: Make its members pledge support to him, irrespective of his tactical opposition to defaulting on the debt and shutting down the government. The central question is whether House hardliners are chastened enough after two weeks of chaos to let Ryan dictate terms to them, not the other way around, and we have no indication that they are yet.

Assuming Ryan sticks to his guns and refuses the speakership (and that Boehner will ultimately resign, whether or not a new speaker has been elected), rank and file Republicans are going to have to take a serious look at forming a temporary coalition with Democrats.

At this point, Congress accomplishes little more than the bare minimum required to maintain status quo governance. Sometimes it’s unable to muster even that (see the Export-Import Bank, for just one example). But this thin record isn’t the bragging right of the Republican Party. It’s a bipartisan effort. And in the House, it’s mostly a Democratic one. The onus is on Democrats to supply most of the votes for the handful of things Congress actually does.

Under the circumstances, there’s a real logic to electing a coalition speaker—a placeholder who doesn’t fear activist retribution and can basically keep his hand on the tiller for the next year and a half, accomplishing little, but creating no damage. This person might have to make some nominal concessions to Democrats—no more debt limit or appropriations-driven extortion crises. Maybe the Benghazi committee would have to go. But the output of Congress would basically go unchanged.

The reason this is so unlikely, of course, is that partisan realities are solidified. Most Republicans might secretly wish for a drama-free resolution to the speakership crisis, but none of them want to place their careers on the line to join the coalition. Democrats, too, have a strong incentive to let Republicans eat themselves alive.

But that is ultimately the source of the House Freedom Caucus’ power. If one Republican were willing to make the sacrifice, or Boehner were willing to stick it out for the remainder of his elected term, the Freedom Caucus would be neutered. Instead, the Freedom Caucus is empowered to play whack-a-mole with various pretenders to the speakership, and can hold out until a candidate emerges who will make insane promises to them, and then attempt to deliver. Crises at every turn. Everyone loses, except them—and perhaps the press, which is understandably reveling in this story.

There’s also probably some difficult-to-measure upside for Democrats, who right now look like the model of competence and maturity compared to Republicans. But on the whole, it’s a disaster. There’s nothing partisan or biased about saying that one of the two major political parties in the country is broken, unable to work within its main governing institution, liable to inflict severe economic damage on the country. It’s a genuinely bad state of affairs, a huge embarrassment for the country, and—unless Boehner, Ryan, or some other white knight asserts himself—a genuinely dangerous situation.

 

By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor at The New Republic, October 9, 2015

October 11, 2015 Posted by | GOP, House Freedom Caucus, House Republicans, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Wanted: One House Speaker (No Experience Necessary)”: No Work Required, Excellent Benefits, Unlimited Time-Off

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) unexpectedly announced his retirement two weeks ago, many on Capitol Hill feared an ugly free-for-all, with a dozen or more House Republicans hoping to take advantage of the unique opportunity.

GOP leaders, desperate to avoid such chaotic circumstances, moved quickly, rallying behind House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). He faced two challengers – one of whom entered the Speaker’s race late – but the unruly mess of a massive field of candidates never materialized.

Instead, a different kind of unruly mess forced McCarthy to quit.

There’s no shortage of questions about what happens now – to the party, to the country – but the most immediate question is who will to try to be the next Speaker of the House.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) threw his hat into the ring yesterday, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is reportedly “considering” it. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Dan Webster (R-Fla.), both of whom took on McCarthy, are very likely to give it another shot.

Rep. Tom Cole’s (R-Okla.) name came up quite a bit yesterday as a more mainstream option, while Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) heard their names floated.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who resigned in disgrace nearly two decades ago, said yesterday he’s open to reclaiming his old post if Republicans rally behind him. (Seriously, that’s what he said.)

And while it’s certainly possible that one of these men may end up as the GOP’s nominee, let’s not pretend any of them are at the top of the Republican wish-list. Politico noted the Republican Party’s favorite.

It’s all about Paul Ryan right now. […]

The Wisconsin Republican is getting bombarded with calls and one-on-one appeals from GOP lawmakers, urging him to be the party’s white knight. Boehner has had multiple conversations with the Ways and Means Committee chairman. Even before he dropped his own bid, McCarthy told Ryan he should do it. And the list goes on: House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) spoke to him about it on the House floor, and Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) also has pushed Ryan to reconsider.

Referring to Ryan, Trey Gowdy said, “I have spent more time trying to talk him into running [for Speaker] than I did my wife into marrying me.”

The Republican Party’s problem is that Paul Ryan really doesn’t want to be Speaker. Almost immediately after Boehner announced he’s stepping down, Ryan quickly made clear he would not run. Almost immediately after McCarthy withdrew from consideration, the Wisconsin congressman once again said he “will not” be a candidate for Speaker.

But this time, the party is pushing him anyway. Boehner was heard saying yesterday that “it has to be Ryan” – even if Ryan himself disagrees.

For what it’s worth, Ryan’s rhetoric shifted slightly late last night, and though different reporters are hearing different things, the Washington Post, citing “top GOP sources,” said this morning that Ryan “is seriously considering a bid for House speaker.”

It’s a miserable job, and Ryan knows it, but that doesn’t mean he’ll ignore the intensifying pressure.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 9, 2015

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Congress, House Freedom Caucus, House Republicans, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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