Yesterday Republicans around the nation cheered when their beleaguered minority House caucus seized the floor and refused to leave after Speaker Nancy Pelosi adjourned the chamber without a debate on expanding domestic oil production. Pelosi ordered the lights and the cameras off, but Republicans extended their protest rally with the darkness a perfect allegory for Democratic inaction on energy. As the protest grew and media coverage expanded, Pelosi made a huge mistake in ordering Capitol Hill police to evict the Republicans from the building.
And Mark Tapscott argues that the Republicans made a mistake in complying:
Yes, the House GOPers scored an unexpected coup today and they got loads of beneficial coverage in the media and across the blogosphere for one day. But how long will this day be remembered? After Labor Day, it will likely be little more than a fond memory for those who were there.
But this could have been so much bigger. The Democrats are forewarned now and likely will go out of their way to preclude any similar opportunities in September.
But even beyond that consideration, the fundamental reason the GOPers should have stayed on the House floor today was to vividly demonstrate to their rank and file beyond the Beltway that this time they mean business and they are not just playing the issue for temporary gain.
Mark lays out the scenario in the first part of his essay. He doesn’t foresee mass arrests of House members for squatting, although that would have been delicious. Mark believes that the Republicans would have forced Pelosi back to Washington to re-open Congress and deal with the debate by essentially turning the floor of the House into a campground. No lights? Bring in some kerosene lamps. Invite the media to come in (with portable equipment, presumably) and see how long the GOP would wait for Pelosi to surrender.
I’m not as certain as Mark that it would have forced Pelosi back to Washington … but it would have been fun to watch her and her caucus squirm over an unending rally to debate policy favored by 70% of the nation.