I’ll be honest: this post looked entirely different last night. I had written about how Boehner ally [mc_name name=’Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001156′ ] of North Carolina’s 10th District had, at the apparent request of the Speaker, allegedly gone looking for someone to primary the avowedly anti-Boehner [mc_name name=’Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001187′ ] in the neighboring 11th District.
Meadows, as you all should remember, is the one who filed the motion to vacate the Speaker’s chair back in July. He already had a strong dislike for Boehner, but his move was no doubt fueled by having a his subcommittee chairmanship on the Government Oversight Committee revoked because of a rules vote, of all things. He was later reinstated, but the damage was done.
The motion to vacate the Speaker’s chair was shot down on the House floor and sent to the Rules committee, where it languished in a sort of legislative purgatory. As quixotic as it might have been, though, it still meant that Meadows had the courage to put his name down as trying to actively remove Boehner from office.
The problem facing Boehner and McHenry is that Meadows has become a hero to conservatives for taking the action he did. He went from a no-name conservative backbencher to the man who tried to oust [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ], and that would no doubt be a huge asset for Meadows in a heated primary, had McHenry found a challenger and Boehner stayed on as Speaker.
It fascinates me, and probably will for a while, that the situation for [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] had gotten so bad that a second term representative could have a real chance of making life miserable for him. At that stage of your political career in Congress, most have nowhere near the clout–or cojones–to try such a thing without suffering immediate harsh consequences. If you attempt something like this, you become a persona non grata, and your career is quickly relegated to the history books. Unfortunately for the Republican Establishment, we now have groups like Heritage Action for America who are more than willing to step in and help conservatives stay in office when the party’s official sources of money are less than willing to help out, meaning that you are now lauded as a hero instead of branded a traitor to the party.
Now, [mc_name name=’Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001165′ ] of California’s 23rd District is heir presumptive to the Speaker’s chair. As Leon noted earlier, we have every reason to believe that putting him in such a position will not actually fix the problem. After all, you don’t rise to the position of Majority Leader under [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ] without being cut from the same basic cloth. If he wins the Republican leadership election easily, then it is a pretty good sign that Republicans truly have learned nothing–which of course means that it will probably happen.
That is why we still need people like [mc_name name=’Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001187′ ] to push back against the leadership, and I hope his quest does not end here. The problems with the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill extend far beyond [mc_name name=’Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B000589′ ], and taking him out means little if the same kind of guy is elected to replace him as Speaker.
In the meantime, though, conservative activists should keep up their efforts to elect principled conservatives. That includes primarying Republicans who have gotten a little too cozy to the Establishment. One of the places we can start is [mc_name name=’Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001156′ ], since he was evidently at the forefront of trying to have Meadows booted from office.
And let’s make sure to congratulate Mark Meadows. He’s the “no-name backbencher” who took on John Boehner, the most powerful man in Congress, and won. I don’t know if I have ever enjoyed having to completely rewrite something this much in my life.