Hey, let’s elect a new Speaker from outside the House

posted at 7:31 pm on December 26, 2012 by Allahpundit

Ed’s headline in the Greenroom for this piece (written by the co-author of “The Republicans Are the Problem”) tells you all you need to know about what an unserious bit of trolling it is, but I’m oddly comforted to see it show up on WaPo’s op-ed page. It’s proof positive that even the most celebrated newspapers aren’t immune from having to scrounge for content in the news desert between Christmas and New Year’s. Coming tomorrow, presumably: “Let’s repeal term limits for Obama.”

Still, it’s worth writing about for two reasons. One: Conservative dissatisfaction with Boehner is real. We may well end up with a new Speaker on January 3. No harm in thinking about alternatives. Two: It’s a useful prism through which to consider the leadership void in the GOP right now.

What if Boehner doesn’t survive? Go to Article I, Section 2: The Constitution does not say that the speaker of the House has to be a member of the House. In fact, the House can choose anybody a majority wants to fill the post. Every speaker has been a representative from the majority party. But these days, the old pattern clearly is not working…

The best way out of this mess would be to find someone from outside the House to transcend the differences and alter the dysfunctional dynamic we are all enduring. Ideally, that individual would transcend politics and party — but after David Petraeus’s stumble, we don’t have many such candidates. It would have to be a partisan Republican.

One option would be Jon Huntsman. By any reasonable standard, he is a conservative Republican: As governor of Utah, he supported smaller government, lower taxes and balanced budgets, and he opted consistently for market-based solutions. As a presidential candidate, he supported positions that were in the wheelhouse of Ronald Reagan. But a Speaker Huntsman would look beyond party and provide a different kind of leadership. He would drive a hard bargain with the president but would aim for a broad majority from the center out, not from the right fringe in. He could not force legislation onto the floor, but he would have immense moral suasion.

Another option would be Mitch Daniels, the longtime governor of Indiana and a favorite on the right. Daniels has shown a remarkable ability to work with Democrats and Republicans, and he is a genuine fiscal conservative — meaning he does not worship at the shrine of tax cuts if they deepen deficits, and he would look for the kind of balanced approach to the fiscal problem put forward by Simpson-Bowles, ­Rivlin-Domenici and the Gang of Six.

It’s true, Huntsman or Daniels might pursue some sort of Bowles-Simpson deal with Obama. So what? Even if one of them hammered out a mutually acceptable deal with Obama, how would he get it passed? The difficulty in the House isn’t that Boehner’s opposed to a grand bargain or a “balanced approach,” it’s the fact that (a) the Democratic caucus is overwhelmingly liberal and (b) the tea party minority on the GOP side is sizable enough that it can block nearly any bill that relies on Republican votes alone to get to 218. And thanks to the magic of gerrymandering, congressmen from deep red or deep blue districts — of which there are many — have more to fear from a primary challenge by someone to their right or left, respectively, than they do from the general election. (Some Republicans were candid about this in explaining why they voted against Plan B.) Jon Huntsman’s alleged “immense moral suasion” isn’t going to convince a liberal or conservative whose ass is on the line in two years to back a compromise bill that neither side likes.

Is there anyone with enough “moral suasion” to convince a divided caucus to pass a compromise with the president, though? If Democrats had this problem, the obvious answer (as it always is) would be Bill Clinton. He remains hugely popular in his party and among the population generally, and he has the gravitas of being an ex-president. There’s no one like that on the Republican side, someone so respected by all wings of the party that their endorsement of a “grand bargain” package would provide enough political cover to conservatives to vote for it that they wouldn’t have to worry (much) about a primary. Daniels does have lots of cred nationally on fiscal issues but not remotely enough stature for a recalcitrant conservative congressman to cast a tough vote without fear of consequences. The only person I can think of who might fit the bill is Paul Ryan: He’s showed unusual seriousness on the federal budget with the Path to Prosperity, he has a national profile now thanks to Romney, and he knows members of the GOP caucus personally, which is key to persuasion. The problem is, as someone with presidential ambitions, Ryan would be nuts to step into this role. He’ll face the same primary problem on a national scale in 2016 as individual Republican congressmen will face two years from now. And he’s refused to compromise on a grand bargain when he’s had opportunities in the past. Remember, he voted no on Bowles-Simpson because it didn’t go far enough to reduce health-care costs. Why would he want the most thankless job in Washington, then? Best-case scenario is that he helps pass a grand bargain that conservatives dislike. Worst-case scenario is that the gridlock continues and he’s derided by the media as an ineffective leader. (He endorsed Boehner’s Plan B and yet they couldn’t even get the bill to the floor.) Who needs that?

You know, now that I think of it, there is a guy out there with the stature and moral suasion to deliver 100+ votes from his own party for a significant compromise on deficit reduction if he was really, really interested in one. Is he?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Fleuries on December 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM

It may surprise you, but I could not agree more.

I am NOT a ‘Boehner Fan’ – I was not happy with him at all when his 1st real ‘test’ as Speaker of the House resulted in him bragging about how he had secured so many hundreds of billions in spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiing only to have Obama cut the legs out from under him by declaring the bulk of those spending cuts were a promise not to (immediately) spend billions in Stimulus funds borrowed but not spent yet. When it all boiled down, only about $500 MILLION in spending cuts was secured by Boehner – bottom line: he lied to us all in order to make it seem like his 1st act as Speaker had been so ‘successful’.

I don’t cRE WHO IS sPEAKER AS LONG AS THEY ARE honest, ETHICAL, MORAL, & CAN accomplish AMERICA’S business rather than push his/her own personal/party agenda.

Compared to the Democrats’ leader’, Harry Reid, Boehner is awesome. Reid wasted time in the Senate – before getting on with working on legislation that had nothing to do with the ‘fiscal cliff’ – to chastise the GOP in the House for not passing any legislation regarding the ‘fiscal cliff’. I was proud of Boehner’s response: ‘Reid should spend less time talking and more time legislating in the Senate. The GOP/House has already passed legislation on the ‘fiscal cliff’, but Reid won’t allow it to come up for a vote.’ NICE!

Corect me if I am wrong; however, I believe Reid was elected to work on, vote on, & pass or reject legislation in the Senate NOT TO ACT AS A ROAD BLOCK PREENTING LEGISLATION FROM COMIG UP FOR A VOTE! (What is Reid afraid of? Democrats have superior numbers in the Senate? Is it possible that a MINORITY of extremist progressives – to include Obama, within the Democratic Party, that has hijacked their party & they are actually afraid that members of their party within the Senate can’t be trusted to tow the extremist line / NOT to vote with the GOP in the senate?!)

easyt65 on December 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Why not Romney for Speaker?

orangemtl on December 27, 2012 at 10:42 AM

That would be more of a lateral move from Boehner… I want someone who is truly (not “severely”) conservative. lol

He had his turn. Time to put Romney in political mothballs.

Fallon on December 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Fleuries on December 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Pretty sure the GOP adopted the non-senority aspect of choosing leaders back in DeLay’s days. The GOP also term limits the time served as committee chairs if I’m not mistaken but the floor is wide open of majority leaders in both chambers. GOP also doesn’t let members under indictment serve as chairs.

Dems still go by seniority with no limits on committee chair terms. That’s why all of the dems chairs are at least 70 and have had influence for years.

DanMan on December 27, 2012 at 11:58 AM

re: easyt65, I’m with you. I don’t think Reid has the votes to raise taxes on those making as low as $250k but as long as he doesn’t allow a vote the media can paint the repubs as obstructionists all day long. Boehner is correct to sit back and let it play out.

DanMan on December 27, 2012 at 12:02 PM

easyt65 on December 27, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Excellent points, all!!

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Steve Z on December 27, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Did you not read this comment about Paul Ryan?

Paul Ryan’s super-duper, totally fantastic, RINO approved plan (sarc!) CUTS THE DEFICIT SPENDING BY HALF by the year 2029! Isn’t that great!!!!!!! Reduces deficit spending By HALF! Ryan voted for the failed Stimulus Plans, voted for bailing out the Banks and Wall Street, AND voted with Boehner into getting suckered by Obama into raising the debt ceiling by $2.7 Trillion in exchange for a Super-Duper Deficit Reduction Committee which EVERYBODY (except Boehner, Cantor and Ryan!) knew was doomed to fail. In fact, IT WAS SETUP TO FAIL! He ALSO approved the Sequestration which is going to cut $500 Billion from the Military starting next month, which now Republicans are desperately trying to distance themselves from.Mahdi on December 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 1:33 PM

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 5:12 AM

After you have gone thru what Sarah Palin has, then perhaps you can criticize her.

So you don’t think a Republican Establishment exists? Name which Republican came to Palins’ defense in the past 4 years? In office or out of office.

Also, which Republicans (in office) came to Romneys’ defense over his comments on Benghazi? Or any of the Obama/Dem/MSM lies about him when he was the Republican Nominee?

Which Republicans (in office) campaigned for Romney?

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 1:41 PM

I like Cantor more in the house, than Boehner, but would like to see Paul Ryan there. Fleuries on December 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Eric Cantor should have been brought up on ethics charges for supporting Senator Lugar’s re-election and not the Tea Party Republican Candidate. Virginia should never have re-elected him if they were up to speed on that. He’s worse than Boehner imo. He, Boehner & McCarthy are the trio that stripped the Conservatives from their Committee slots.

No on Cantor and No on Paul Ryan.(for reasons by Mahdi on December 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM )

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Oh, I have an opinion on having a Secret Ballot in the House when electing the Speaker:

Boehner is negotiating in Secret with Obama, so I’m sure he won’t object. If he does, bring that up.

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 2:02 PM

After you have gone thru what Sarah Palin has, then perhaps you can criticize her.

Stick and stones. We are talking about the end of America as founded; the death of the country we grew up in as we have known it. “But the Democrats will say mean things about me!” is a valid excuse to not save the country if you have the chance? Brave men and women in the US military lay down their lives for the sake of this country, what is that compared to a few nasty remarks from nasty people? That is the mark of a serious leader who really cares?

So you don’t think a Republican Establishment exists? Name which Republican came to Palins’ defense in the past 4 years? In office or out of office.

Elected officials don’t often rush to the defense of media personalities. Even Rush, who is much bigger and has done way more conservatism than Sarah Palin, is left to defend himself and that’s fine because Rush is a big boy who can handle it. Are you insinuating Sarah Palin is weak and needs other people to defend her?

Also, which Republicans (in office) came to Romneys’ defense over his comments on Benghazi? Or any of the Obama/Dem/MSM lies about him when he was the Republican Nominee?

Which Republicans (in office) campaigned for Romney?

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Romney was the Republican Party’s nominee for president and the party standard-bearer. Sarah Palin is a media personality. They live in different worlds and are playing different games. Are you not aware of the difference?

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Eric Cantor should have been brought up on ethics charges for supporting Senator Lugar’s re-election and not the Tea Party Republican Candidate. Virginia should never have re-elected him if they were up to speed on that. He’s worse than Boehner imo. He, Boehner & McCarthy are the trio that stripped the Conservatives from their Committee slots.

No on Cantor and No on Paul Ryan.(for reasons by Mahdi on December 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM )

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 1:51 PM

In Cantor’s defense the Tea Party candidate he didn’t support turned out to be an incompetent fool who handed what should be a gimmie seat for the GOP over to the Democrats. I had no love for Lugar but he’s a darn sight better than the closet lib who will sit in that seat now. So score one point for Cantor and the Buckley Rule on that one.

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 4:20 PM

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

I’m sure if I wanted to take the time, I’d find you among the Sarah Palin critics on HA if you posted at that time. However, your comments about her tells me I don’t even need to research.

Also you being ok with what Eric Cantor did regarding supporting Lugar in Indiana tells me more.

That’s all.

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Romney was the Republican Party’s nominee for president and the party standard-bearer. Sarah Palin is a media personality. They live in different worlds and are playing different games. Are you not aware of the difference?

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Romney never was my standard-bearer, and I’d take one Palin over a thousand Romneys.

And here’s somthing for your little mind to comprehend….

“Politics is down stream of popular culture…”

- Breitbart

idesign on December 27, 2012 at 5:42 PM

I’m sure if I wanted to take the time, I’d find you among the Sarah Palin critics on HA if you posted at that time. However, your comments about her tells me I don’t even need to research.

Using broad terms to attack the messenger rather than specifically attacking the message is a sure sign of a winning position.

Also you being ok with what Eric Cantor did regarding supporting Lugar in Indiana tells me more.

That’s all.

bluefox on December 27, 2012 at 5:13 PM

History has proven Cantor’s course of action was the correct one.

Eric Cantor knows more than you do, or at least he’s in the position to know a lot more. Mourdock wasn’t a total unknown; he’d been in politics in Indiana for some time, people knew him and how he thought, and it’s totally believable that someone who knew Mourdock personally could have told Cantor and Mourdock was an idiot who lacked the political skill to handle a loaded gotcha question. It defies common sense that you can hold Cantor responsible for not backing a now-proven nincompoop that shot himself in the face politically and handed a Republican Senate seat over the Democrats.

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Romney never was my standard-bearer, and I’d take one Palin over a thousand Romneys.

And here’s somthing for your little mind to comprehend….

“Politics is down stream of popular culture…”

- Breitbart

idesign on December 27, 2012 at 5:42 PM

OK, thanks for sharing that. The comment you’re responding to was about why elected Republicans did what they did. No one asked or cared about what you did or why.

alchemist19 on December 27, 2012 at 5:56 PM

No, they don’t know enough as with ‘Global Thermonuclear War, there is no deal, you can have with Obama, how many times do they have to learn that, The establishment forced upon us, another unmotivated candidate, who wasted our money and time, because he didn’t understand that simple rule,

narciso on December 27, 2012 at 6:00 PM

I had the crap scared out of me the other day. It had not dawned on me that Speaker is voted on by the whole House. It’s not just a majority caucus thing. Conceivably, if Republicans are foolish enough to split between Boehner and someone more palatable, Nancy Pelosi could end up Speaker again by taking all the Democrat votes. That’s a pizza at bedtime nightmare puke inducer.

ironked on December 27, 2012 at 11:06 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3