John Boehner is gone. What does it mean?
Not as much as lots of rejoicing conservatives hope, actually. The fact is, Boehner quitting today doesn’t usher in some grand new age of right-wing dominance. If one was in the offing it would have already started after either the 2010 midterm elections or the 2014 cycle.
We can say this, because frankly Boehner never really had any competition. There have been moves to get him out of the Speaker’s chair, but nobody with any real chance to beat him ever turned up as a contender.
Now that Boehner is out – actually he’s out at the end of October, and you can bet that between now and then you will have practically nothing but cave-ins to Obama on all the issues in front of the House, because Boehner is going out with his legacy being getting the Pope to address the House and not a government shutdown – there might be some more A-list contenders.
But the odds-on favorite to replace Boehner at this point is Kevin McCarthy, the current majority leader. McCarthy, the word goes, has been breaking bread with some of the conservatives in the House in order to prepare for his ascension, and the deal that could be had would put a conservative in McCarthy’s current seat with McCarthy moving up to Speaker. Current majority whip Steve Scalise would hold his position. But Scalise let it be known today that he would seek McCarthy’s current job.
For conservatives that would indicate marginal improvement. You wouldn’t get a conservative speaker – McCarthy is basically a moderate – but you’d have conservatives in the next two positions on the totem pole.
But here’s the thing: Since the 2014 midterms, the House has not been the problem. That’s not to say there are no bad decisions or weak moves on Boehner’s escutcheon, but if the Senate had passed all the bills the House had sent them, rather than allow the Democrats to filibuster them, there would have been a whole lot of legislation on Barack Obama’s desk that it wouldn’t make him happy to sign.
Which doesn’t make for a change of direction in Washington, but it does make for a lame-duck president on defense.
But you don’t get that, because the real problem is the Senate. The Senate is atrocious. Mitch McConnell is everything people complain about Boehner for, and then some.
And you will not have another shoe dropping anytime soon. Mitch McConnell isn’t going anywhere. Few in the Senate even want him gone.
The fact is, McConnell is a perfect representative of the GOP’s Senate caucus. When the majority of that caucus is made up of the Susan Collinses, Lindsey Grahams, Kelly Ayottes and Bob Corkers in the world, you will get a Mitch McConnell to lead them. You will not get a Ted Cruz or Mike Lee.
In other words, nothing will change. Whoever takes over for Boehner will end up with the same fate – at least until there is a Republican president in 2017.
But as we know, the failure to move an agenda in Congress has disgusted Republican voters, and as such the top contenders for the GOP nomination are the people least connected to the political status quo. It’s difficult to make the case that Donald Trump or Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina are the best-qualified candidates to be president, but until there is reason to think that the GOP’s political class can actually do anything you can’t really blame the voters for wanting them fired.
That’s a shame, because in Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio the party has two of its most attractive and best candidates in 30 years. They’re currently in 4th and 5th place.
Some believe the current flavor of the GOP race will dissipate and it’s going to come down to a Cruz-Rubio fight. That would be good for the party, but if that should happen it’s likely going to take something to happen in Congress that is not in the offing right now.
Still, Boehner was a failure as Speaker. And failure should have consequences. In his case, the consequences are that he reached the end of his road and had to resign, just like a football coach of a losing team at some point will have to go.
Turnover has its own merits, and today we have turnover. It’s something, though nobody should be thinking the world will change because Boehner’s gone.
Speaking of the anti-establishment GOP candidates, I have a piece at the American Spectator about Ben Carson and the Muslim comment last weekend which is still percolating…
Carson wasn’t asked whether he would do away with Article 6. He was asked whether he thinks it would be a good idea to elect a Muslim president. He said no, because of the implications of Sharia and the incompatibilities with our system.
Ben Carson is entitled to that belief, and he is neither insane nor alone in holding it. His position is entirely mainstream. He might not have been politically wise to actually answer the question, but his reasons for doing so are good ones; Ben Carson is an honest and forthright man who gives honest and forthright answers to questions even when they’re not asked by an honest and forthright interviewer. He may want to become less honest and forthright and more protective of his campaign when being interviewed by Democrat operatives like Chuck Todd disguised as journalists, but if he does he will be less interesting as a candidate. The criticism of Carson isn’t hurting him one bit this week, and it shouldn’t — most Republican voters rightfully despise the left-wing media’s attempts to distort the GOP race with gotcha questions and implausible hypotheticals like avowed Muslim presidential candidates.
But CAIR invoked Article 6 and the prohibition of religious tests to demand that Carson be disqualified for not applying it to his own personal electoral preference, an absurdity of insulting proportions, and asserted its commitment to “democracy” by purporting to confiscate his liberty to run for office. As Paul Mirengoff noted, that stupid response proved Carson’s point about the incompatibility of political Islam and our constitution with stunning clarity.
Carson is raising a ton of money off his statement that a Muslim who embraces Sharia should never be president, and he should. He’s taken some really idiotic criticism over that statement, which I find perplexing – I didn’t know there was some groundswell of interest in Muslim leadership of the United States, but apparently, that groundswell includes at least Charles Krauthammer, who wrote the worst column of his career on the subject.
Carson’s rather obvious statement is being called extreme, and yet you can see real extremism among the politically correct Left. An example: the completely unhinged Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
LSU is going to beat the crap out of Syracuse in about 24 hours. So say all the writers for the Syracuse paper.