Since I was away all day working and stopped listening to talk radio after the election, I came home to find out that John Boehner had been re-elected the Speaker of the House. So much for those bated-breath rumors that:
- Boehner was going to resign, or
- There were anywhere from 20 to 30 Republicans ready and willing to vote against Boehner on the first ballot, denying him victory, and/or
- Boehner would step aside in favor of another if he didn’t win the first ballot. Eric Cantor was one choice, Jim Jordan was another.
Instead, only 12 Republicans put their careers on the line and decided to support either a more presumably conservative alternative or no one at all (h/t Becca Lower – Lowering the Boom):
Confirmed: Nine Republicans voted against Boehner w/ another name: 3 Cantor, 2 West, 1 Labrador, 1 Jordan, 1 Walker, 1 Amash
— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) January 3, 2013
Becca has the list of nine, plus the “present” vote. The other two didn’t cast a vote, and Andy Harris was not among those either.
So the guy who was bold enough to vote against the “fiscal cliff” and wouldn’t support “Plan B” didn’t follow through on eliminating from power the person who negotiated these deals. I don’t know about you, but I’m shaking my head as well. What happened to the guy who was unafraid to be the lone voice of opposition to bad bills burning their way through the Maryland Senate? Was there a threat made regarding his committee position?
(I suppose the question could – and should – be asked by constituents of Representatives Trent Franks and Jim Jordan, who exhibited a similar voting pattern, but I’ll leave that to Arizona and Ohio bloggers, respectively. Jordan represents an area of my home state not far from where I grew up but lives in the southern part of the district. Still, it’s a rock-ribbed conservative region.)
Frankly, I’m disappointed that Harris gave in to the majority, even if no candidate was running against Boehner. He could have simply voted “present” or selected another person more qualified than the current Speaker.
It’s getting tiresome to see our side continually give ground yet continue to elect the same failed leadership. Do I believe we could have more effective Congressional leadership? Yes. Do I believe we can and should have Republican Party leadership that’s more assertive? You betcha. Otherwise, why should we even bother to be the opposition?
Some are going to tell me, “look at the election results.” All I see is that our President barely squeaked out a majority against a candidate who was apparently going through the motions. Barack Obama fooled enough of the people enough of the time to win, although he did so by masterful usage of data and willing
dupes volunteers, I will grudgingly admit. He also had just enough of a coattail to pull through two additional Senators, but only a handful of Democratic House members. It was hardly a wave election like 2010 was.
We need stronger leadership, someone to take the bull by the horns, project a clear choice (like something along these lines), and seize the narrative. (It’s almost unfortunate, for example, that Tim Scott was elevated to the Senate – imagine liberal heads exploding had he been selected as Speaker of the House.) Unfortunately, too many people like that have no interest in the political rough-and-tumble.
So color me disappointed by this vote. Someone asked me, though, whether we should primary Andy Harris because he voted against Grover Norquist the other night. (It’s a comment to this post.) Well, first of all, Grover Norquist was wrong because there was really no question the Bush tax rates would be extended – the argument was over just how many would benefit. I think voting against the fiscal cliff deal isn’t a vote for higher taxes but instead the higher principle of a flatter tax system which doesn’t punish producers.
I look at it this way: I don’t mind contested primaries. We didn’t happen to have one on the GOP side in 2012, but that doesn’t mean we won’t in 2014. Let those chips fall where they may and the Republican voters decide. Hopefully they make a smarter choice than Andy did in this instance – besides, he has two years to mend fences and explain his curious choice.