As you may have seen from the "crawl" low on your TV screens, there was a proposal being put forth, a motion of some odd parliamentary kind in the House of Representatives, to remove John Boehner as Speaker of the House. The motion "to vacate the chair" will go nowhere, but what the heck -- it sums up what a lot of Republicans and conservatives are thinking.
I was thinking about this before the last election when it looked like the Republicans might add the Senate along with the House. In fact, I wrote about it in the linked piece, because I was really concerned. Here, after all, was a Congress for four years, with the House passing bill after bill to die a-borning on Harry Reid's desk. Clearly that was not what the populace wanted.
But if the Republicans did take both houses and failed to lead, they would have almost zero chance of recapturing the White House in two years, in 2016. In fact, I wrote these words and italicized them to make the point:
"The clearest path to another Democratic president in 2016 will be if a
Republican majority in Congress is not united in its legislating and
looks just as impotent as the current gridlocked one."
I meant that. I meant that one of the best things that Republicans ever did -- as Republicans -- was to pull off the 1994 House election coup and then go to work on the Contract with America, the famous Newt Gingrich-led platform that included a set of conservative legislative ideas. It was leadership from Congress, and it was bloody refreshing, at least until self-preservation took over and the term-limit idea stalled, which pretty much dried up the public's faith. Still, much of what Bill Clinton takes, or is given -- OK, "takes" credit for in terms of the balanced budget is because he was forced into it by Congress.
In 2014, we all celebrated the Republican capture of both houses, but I warned in that piece that winning was only the first step. Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, the new Senate Majority Leader, would be abject failures if they did not go straight to the nation and sell a legislative agenda that would force Barack Obama either to sign or veto its content, very publicly.
Clearly, the nation does not agree with Barack Obama even as it votes for him. 2014 was the time, after the big win, for Republicans to go to the public with plan for what a Republican agenda would be like -- in other words, offer up bills that Obama would likely veto, and then tell the people to give them a president who would sign them, because they are good for the country.
I couldn't have been more explicit, although granted this column was being read a heck of a lot less than I am now. So maybe they didn't get my memo.
But it appears that Mark Meadows (R-NC) got the message; it is he who put forth the motion to vacate the chair. And I, for one, don't blame him. I want a Republican president and a Republican Congress, but with electoral politics being what they are, that's a hard sell. But John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have not even knocked on the door, let alone stuck their foot in the doorway.
They have not tried to sell the country on their vision of what Republicans would do to make their lives better. They have not put forth a vision of that "new America" that Donald Trump wears on his hat. They have not energized a soul.
Someone has to, lest we suffer through a Hillary administration.
We have 15 months for this Congress's leadership to convince the USA -- or at least Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Virginia -- that its vision for leadership is better than that of the people who sit in the White House now, better than that of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. They had better get off their butts and do something. Because to date, they have done nada, as in "nada darn thing".
Pass some laws. Put them on the president's desk and make him do something. Put him on the defensive. If he vetoes things, make a speech and dump it on him -- our side has people who can write compelling stuff, right?
That, of course, won't happen. Speaker Boehner deserves to be removed.
Copyright 2015 by Robert Sutton
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