The Bush era, particularly his first term, was defined by a GOP congressional leadership that blindly and relentlessly tried to do the White House’s bidding. One aide to GOP strongman Tom DeLay told me, “DeLay’s job is to pass the president’s agenda.”
Under a President Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, the speaker would need to pull the White House to the Right. If a Rubio White House wants the sugar program, the speaker should lead the party’s rebellion. If a Bush White House wants spending hikes, the speaker shouldn’t be Bush’s man on Capitol Hill, but the conservatives’ lobbyist to the White House.
Politics has changed since the Tea Party. The old rules don’t apply — earmarks are gone, party primaries are a more real threat, K Street no longer has a monopoly on the agenda. The Republican establishment hasn’t adapted its policymaking apparatus to this new reality. The next speaker will have a chance to do so. He’ll have to do so.