A Hill Talk Editorial: Boehner’s departure from House Speakership may prove advantageous for GOP

In the end, House Speaker John Boehner had enough.   Unwilling to have either his mind or spirit broken by widespread internecine warfare, Boehner preferred to turn over the gavel rather than face members of his own party bitterly in earnest against him or continue to engage in insufferable conflict with the rigid ideologue in the White House.

To lay blame for the passage of ObamaCare at Boehner’s doorstep would be fundamentally and irredeemably insane, but Boehner often, fairly or not, earned a reputation as too conciliatory with Mr. Obama instead of having a stiff enough spine to challenge him.   Often revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence in negotiations with Obama, Boehner maintained a public persona of being only collegial, hardworking and modest.  In an ordinary person, those qualities are praiseworthy; in a leader, they are fatal.

Boehner’s departure from the House Speakership leaves a void which, if not carefully filled, will leave his successor to inherit the same insubordinate and splintered GOP House he presided over.  One not need to clutch a truculent public personality to govern, but if the House fails to elect a new Speaker who can unite and stand up for conservative principles instead of surrendering, it will imperil the GOP’s capacity to maintain the House in 2016.

An astounding 62 percent of GOP primary voters feel “betrayed” by politicians in their party; an additional 66 percent say GOP majorities in both houses of Congress have done little to stop the cascade of government intrusion and Mr. Obama’s liberal agenda.  In contrast, 40 percent of Democrats say their representatives have betrayed them.

Criticism of Congress is routinely broadcast by public opinion polls; however, this poll appears unique:  It is a sharp rebuke to the GOP leadership in Congress.  Similarly, alert GOP congressmen accept this as a prescient warning as the 2016 election cycle approaches.

Recognizing this quandary, the 65-year-old Boehner chose to step aside from the House Speakership.

At first glance, it is likely the GOP will simply elevate the heir, Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA) to the Speakership position.  This would be a mistake.  For the 62 percent who bellowed their grievances in the recent poll, this move would be interpreted as more of “business as usual,” which is precisely what GOP voters hold with disdain.  While a congressman with an unblemished conservative record is needed, a Speaker with the talent to galvanize support, overcome dissent within the party and inspire is urgently needed.

Tea Party members may suggest Steve Scalise (R-LA); however, the glow surrounding Scalise lessened significantly after his advancement to the House Majority Whip position in 2014, a move largely assumed done to placate Tea Party members in the House.  Critics charge Scalise began a transformation shortly after his assuming the Majority Whip post and became one of “them.”

While there is every reason to believe widespread concerns the “business as usual” program will overwhelm the better judgement of House members’, electing a current member of the GOP leadership team would spur upheaval in the House and, worse, drive GOP voters away from the voting booth in 2016.

At this moment, the GOP is charged with a remarkable responsibility.  To simply elevate the “next in line” to the Speakership would spell disaster; it would confirm to GOP voters the GOP is more interested in engaging in both betraying conservatism and the seedy, back-room deals to which voters are driven to despair.  What is needed most is a solid, young conservative serving less than three terms in the House with a willingness and reputation of exploiting Mr. Obama’s, Ms. Pelosi’s and Mr. Reid’s divide-and-conquer tactics against them over the next year.

Similarly, and worth mentioning, it is critical the GOP enlists a congressman who will remain immune from the temptations of power leadership positions bestow and abide by conservative ideals.

Electing a Speaker who commits to these two simple virtues will signal to the 62 percent who abhor GOP management of the House and seethe over what they judge as slothful supervision the GOP recognizes their admonishment and is answering the call.  Comparably, the gesture will send a strong missive to the White House and the Democratic minority a new leader has emerged willing to rival the same ideological rigidity and unmatched leadership offered on the other side of the aisle and they are prepared to frustrate Democratic aims of subjugating individual rights of citizens.

Divergent action is critical:  Elect a relative unknown to assume the Speakership, issue no apology to those with bruised egos and take the fight to the Obama White House.  If the current GOP leadership structure remains intact, nothing will change other than climbing disapproval ratings and low faith in the party.

 

[Fox News] [Photo courtesy Bloomberg]