Saturday November 28, 2015
October 12th, 2015
How will the chaos that the crazies, I mean the Freedom Caucus, have wrought in the House get resolved? I have no idea. But as this column went to press, practically the whole Republican establishment was pleading with Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, to become speaker. He is, everyone says, the only man who can save the day.
Discussing the chaos gripping the House Republican caucus, Joe Scarborough put his finger on one of the major problems facing House Republicans: a lack of strategic thinking. The former Republican congressman from Florida mused last week on his eponymous MSNBC morning show that when he was in Congress in the late 1990s, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich would be in his Capitol suite plotting the caucus's next moves in the thrust-and-parry of governing with a Democrat in the White House.
Over the past month, the crowded Republican presidential primary field saw its first two casualties: former Texas governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. These early exits surprised some. Walker was as an early front-runner in the polls owing to his conservative record and ability to win statewide office in a traditionally blue state. Perry was seen as a dark horse with untapped potential.
Why is it wrong for Volkswagen to lie (if it did lie) about whether its cars meet emission standards, but uncontroversial for HBO to lie (if it is lying) about whether Jon Snow is dead?
Everyone knows what Volkswagen is accused of. If you're puzzled by the reference to Jon Snow, we'll get to him in a minute. But first, let me tell a brief story.
One group was not surprised by the collapse of Kevin McCarthy's campaign for speaker: The ultra-conservatives inside and outside the House who have made clear since the rise of the tea party that they have no use for politics as usual.
You must admit: This is turning out to be one of the most entertaining presidential contests we've ever experienced. What's interesting about the Republican primary is the fact that three outsiders lead the pack. What's interesting on the Democratic side is how economic populism has become the dominant theme. Everybody's channeling Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, even Hillary Clinton.
So Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was supposed to succeed John Boehner as speaker of the House, won’t be pursuing the job after all. He would have faced a rough ride both winning the post and handling it under the best of circumstances, thanks to the doomsday caucus — the fairly large bloc of Republicans demanding that the party cut off funds to Planned Parenthood, or kill Obamacare, or anyway damage something liberals like, by shutting down the government and forcing it into default.
Shortly after the mass murders at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Ore., President Obama predicted the extreme right wing would crank out press releases declaring the nation needs fewer gun control laws and more guns.
The pro-gun lobby didn’t disappoint him.
At this point, I worry we're going to start finding members of the Republican establishment curled up in their beds, eyes clenched shut and ears covered with trembling hands, moaning "make it stop, make it stop, make it stop."
Pity their suffering, but remember that they brought it on themselves.
The top editor of the Gallup polling organization declared the other day that the nation's primary door-knocking operation was going to stop surveying who's ahead and who's behind in the course of the 2016 primary elections. That seems akin to a baseball umpire giving up calling balls and strikes.