The Problem On Capitol Hill Is A Lack Of Competence, Not Insufficient Ideology

That’s not to say the conservative fervor is sufficient – when you’re up against the red-diaper babies, Black Panther poseurs and Sandinista wannabes of the Obama administration, you’ve practically got to be Joe McCarthy to create a healthy balance – but it isn’t the main problem.

If you sat John Boehner and Mitch McConnell down and spouted bromides about limited government and the Constitution you would get precisely zero disagreement. The people who say Boehner and McConnell are closet leftists or progressives simply have it wrong. Boehner and McConnell would gladly move aggressive conservative policy through their bodies if the opportunity truly presented itself.

And in Boehner’s case, he’s actually done so. The House has passed a good deal of solid policy on to the Senate, where Democrat filibusters have killed it.

The problem is, these guys aren’t effective in turning a vote into actual change, and that’s why the will of the body can be flouted by a minority in the Senate before it even gets to Barack Obama’s veto.

And that won’t get better any time soon.

Did you see Kevin McCarthy’s appearance on Hannity earlier this week? It was a disaster. McCarthy gave the Left one of the greatest gifts they’ve received in modern times. Here’s how the execrable propaganda outfit Media Matters described it…

McCarthy was asked what good the House had done in this term, and this was the first thing out of his mouth.

This isn’t to say that the Benghazi Special Committee isn’t a good accomplishment. The fact is, Media Matters is outright lying – there is nothing partisan about cutting through the lies Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama told about Benghazi and shining sunlight onto the truth, and the fact the accusation is made is evidence of the Democrats’ partisanship.

But phrasing his answer the way he did means you can’t make McCarthy Speaker if you expect the House to get the country to agree with the Republican side. The first thing out of his mouth in his public bid for Speaker is a gaffe the Left will use in an effort to rehabilitate Hillary Clinton’s image. That’s likely destined to fail, but winning in spite of the incompetence of your leaders rather than having competent people in charge is not much of a strategy.

And the people who have worked on the Benghazi hearings are furious at McCarthy for having opened the door for the Left to denigrate their work as mere partisan hackery…

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room,” [Jason] Chaffetz, R-Utah, said McCarthy should apologize, saying the California Republican made an “absolutely inappropriate statement.”

[…]

“I might have said it differently,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, told CNN. “Any ancillary political activity that comes out of it is, in fact, not the goal of the committee and is not what the committee is seeking to do.”

Added Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, “I totally disagree with those comments.” Asked if they could jeopardize his bid for speaker, the conservative Amash said: “I think it should be a concern.”

McCarthy should have said the Benghazi hearings and investigation are exposing a level of deceit and stupidity that horrify the American people, and that the House has an enormous amount of work left to do on that subject and lots of others.

But even that is problematic. Just look at the Planned Parenthood hearings from this week, which were poorly executed. Mona Charen was spot on in her denunciation at National Review today…

Speaking of running circles, that’s pretty much what Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards managed to do at the much-heralded hearing this week. The committee’s chairman announced that the devastating videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress would not be shown during the hearing due to a court order in California. So, instead of the topic of the hour — truly heart-rending footage of aborted babies being picked over for their livers and hearts, to cite just one example — the hearing featured charts showing how much money Planned Parenthood spent on various services over the past year. Riveting.

The videos are the reason the hearing was held at all. It is the videos that have galvanized abortion opponents, moved the debate, and put pressure on Congress to once again attempt to defund the organization. If, due to legal wrangling, the videos cannot be shown now, then why not hold off the hearings until they can be shown? The videos are the story. Full stop.

While Ms. Richards spouted platitudes and evasions, a congressman from Arizona tried to say that Planned Parenthood focuses on abortions because it’s profitable for them, but he filled his statement/question with jargon like “unit price” and “profit center” and “narrow focus” and one doubts that the point got across. Meanwhile, Ms. Richards spoke of cancer screenings, and contraceptives, and preventing STDs.

Other Republican members, determined to use their five minutes to get 5 seconds on the evening news or a viral video on Facebook, behaved like talk radio hosts — interrupting the witness, shouting, and demanding yes or no answers. This is not good government. It isn’t even good theater. You look like bullies.

Charen makes an excellent point that the way these hearings ought to be structured is for the questioning of witnesses to be done BY LAWYERS, not the members of the committees in question. That’s how you can get a real exposition of the truth from them and not a fumbling, sloppy shout-fest in five-minute segments.

One of the very few people in these hearings who could actually do that is Trey Gowdy, and he got a mere five minutes to question Cecile Richards – and in that five minutes Gowdy got Richards to admit Planned Parenthood is OK with abortions being done on the basis of race or sex, plus he led her off a cliff on the fact that Planned Parenthood makes political donations exclusively to Democrats – she tried to deny that, but face-planted in doing so. Not allowing Gowdy or some other skilled lawyer to conduct the questioning was a wasted opportunity, and it’s correct that Planned Parenthood is now running around accusing all the Republicans on the committee of being “#WarOnWomen bullies as a result.

So when McCarthy says he’ll convene a select committee on Planned Parenthood and the videos, which isn’t a bad idea, what reason do we have to believe that will actually result in something that creates consensus among the American people to de-fund that criminal organization and put pressure on Democrats to surrender or at least seek some sort of compromise?

It won’t. Efforts by the GOP majority in Congress to rally the American people to its side on issues like Planned Parenthood or even easier items like the Iran deal won’t prove successful until you get leaders who actually understand how to gain and use negotiating leverage.

That we don’t have.

And it’s even worse than that. Those members of the House and Senate who are actually trying to improve the performance of the party are being hammered by the failing leadership. At RealClearPolitics, a former John McCain stooge named Mark Salter went after Ted Cruz, who earlier this week gave a tremendous speech laying out precisely the circumstances through which the failure is coming, with all the invective he could muster…

I know that Cruz and his minions boast that he wears the establishment’s animosity as a badge of honor. But before anyone adds more brushstrokes to Cruz’ self-portrait as a modern day Edmund G. Ross, let me point out that at the heart of colleagues’ contempt for him isn’t their distress at finding themselves confronted by a principled conservative, but their belief that he is an imposter.

He deliberately sets up conservatives to fail by goading them into empty gestures and self-defeating stunts like shutting down government, which make it harder to persuade more Americans to embrace conservative policies. They can’t even be described accurately as Pyrrhic victories. They’re just abject failures.

And Cruz bets on them to fail. He stokes the anger of grassroots conservatives in the hope that it devours everyone but him. He offers false hope and misinformation as a plan, stands defiantly in the imaginary breach, and scurries to blame others for his singular lack of success.

Now he’s playing lickspittle to Donald Trump, a candidate without a single conservative or even serious political principle, in the hope of grasping a few crumbs of support from Big Daddy’s table when the notorious Internet troll tires of pretending to run for national office.  Cruz claims allegiance to Ronald Reagan’s famed 11th Commandment about not speaking ill of fellow Republicans, and won’t cock an eyebrow as Trump attacks the rest of the 2016 Republican field with insults that would embarrass a mature sixth-grader and offers decidedly non-conservative policy prescriptions. But Cruz will call Mitch McConnell a liar for not playing along with his latest deception, and he crows and struts when Speaker John Boehner, a man who gave decades of service to his country and party, is obliged to retire.

Many grassroots conservatives believe that Republicans in Washington think they’re better than the people who sent them there. No politician has ever fit that description better than Ted Cruz. He hasn’t done anything for anyone other than himself since he came to town. He thinks if he promises you the impossible, and identifies a few scapegoats, you won’t notice he’s faking it. He thinks you’re that easy to fool.

Are you?

If that doesn’t sound like a full-throated defense of incompetence to you – particularly coming as it does from someone who was chief of staff to McCain when he was busily sabotaging the George W. Bush administration from the Senate for the entire eight years Bush was president, and a “senior adviser” to the presidential campaign which allowed Barack Obama to squat in the White House – then you’re not paying attention.

We’re told often by the leadership that there really isn’t anything they can do until there is a Republican president.

They’re correct.

Because if we are to count on these people to restore the constitutional checks and balances that make Congress equal to the president, we’ll need a far more talented cast of characters.



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