There are cautious, reserved, process-oriented conservatives among GOP leaders — Boehner, McCarthy, etc. — who are conservative both in the ideological sense and in the temperamental sense. And in opposition to them, there are radical conservatives, impatient with the pace of change and excited almost beyond endurance that Barack Obama, the unlikely left-wing back-bench nobody from Chicago, has twice managed to get himself elected president, to keep his partisans in line, and to frustrate the hell out of Republicans despite their holding their best position in Congress and in the states since . . . ever, really. A great many of these more radical conservatives are good, genuine, valuable public servants, some of whom also want to be president. A few of them, mainly outside of government, are cynical media manipulators who traffic in perpetual artificial outrage because perpetual artificial outrage is how you sell people gold coins and freeze-dried apocalypse entrees.
This is the radicals’ moment. Boehner and McCarthy have simultaneously knuckled under and issued a challenge: “Okay, big boys, you don’t like our leadership? Let’s see what you’ve got.” There are some potential answers to that question that are very exciting.
The House is about to find out whether the more energetic conservatives long dissatisfied with the leadership of John Boehner can effectively put forward one of their own for the top House job — and, if they do, Congress and the country are about to find out what that means. As a way of settling a genuine political dispute, this could hardly be improved upon.