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Saturday, October 22, 2016

The House of Representatives is in a state of total chaos, after the sudden withdrawal of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the race to become Speaker of the House. Who will get the job now? And who would even want it?

McCarthy, the onetime heir apparent, proceeded to ruin his chances after he publicly boasted as an accomplishment that the Benghazi investigation committee was put together in order to bring down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.

McCarthy was also stymied by the continued renegade behavior of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of right-wing GOP members. It’s conceivable this group might have committed the nearly unprecedented act of refusing to vote for the Republican nominee on the House floor on account of the leadership’s refusal to trigger a government shutdown —a standoff that has brought the House GOP to the point of crisis.

So what other names are emerging from the Republican peanut gallery as contenders? (Though come to think of it, we thought that McCarthy was the peanut gallery.)

Here are just a few possibilities.

All eyes are now on Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, architect of Republican proposals to privatize Medicare, and of course the losing GOP nominee for vice president in 2012. Ryan has been a hero of the right, but would risk a lot by taking on the duties of actual governance.

Soon after McCarthy’s big stunner, Ryan put out a statement reiterating (after his earlier decision following Boehner’s initial retirement) that he would still not be running for speaker. However, The Washington Post reports that Boehner is personally asking Ryan to run for the speakership. And now even Kevin McCarthy himself is telling National Review, “I personally want Paul Ryan” — though given McCarthy’s unpopularity with the Freedom Caucus, maybe an endorsement is the surest thing he could do to ruin Ryan’s chances.

Still running is Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the House Oversight Committee chairman who launched his campaign this past weekend. You might remember Chaffetz as the man who unveiled a bizarrely dishonest graph about Planned Parenthood at last week’s hearing, and then continued to defend it even as the inaccuracies were pointed out to him on national television.

Another problem: Chaffetz has been a longtime participant in the Benghazi investigations, the legitimacy of which McCarthy has tainted.

Daniel Webster of Florida is also running, after becoming the candidate of the same far-right House Freedom Caucus that helped to bring down Boehner and McCarthy. Back in January, a group of Republicans who were seeking to block Boehner on the House floor in the election for speaker, selected Webster as their main candidate — an effort that just barely failed at the time.

Another possible compromise candidate might be Peter Roskam of Illinois. In a fascinating turn, an article ran last night in National Review that floated him as the “the next-next speaker” after McCarthy — and with McCarthy out of the picture, perhaps this other man could become a major player.

And then there’s some comic relief, courtesy of the GOP’s southern base. According to Fox News, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia is now running. He’s man who infamously called Barack and Michelle Obama “uppity” during the 2008 election — and then insisted that he’d never even heard of that word’s history as an insult against African-Americans.

Westmoreland very memorably appeared in a 2006 episode of The Colbert Report, during which he talked about how he didn’t actually have to pass legislation. And in one of the truly classic moments from the early years of the show, Colbert asked the congressman — who favored the public posting of the Ten Commandments — to actually list those same commandments from memory. (Spoiler warning: He couldn’t.)

Photo: Elephants performing at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, November 8, 2008. (via Wikimedia Commons)

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  • Dominick Vila

    The choices being considered tell me that the GOP establishment is pretty much out of the picture. From Ryan to Webster, the only ones having a chance to replace Boehner are all Tea Party advocates who advocate slash and burn policies. No compromise. No pragmatism. No governance. The far right is in full control of the GOP, and that fact is going to become obvious in weeks to come.

    • FireBaron

      If there ever was a case of the tail wagging the dog, this is it. Unfortunately, Dom, these clowns live in areas where even if Jesus Christ ran as a Democrat, they would win. Why? Because since 1968 the Republican Right wing has managed to demonize the Democrats so much that even folks who were life-long Democrats switched when their Congressmen and Senators joined the GOP out of revenge for LBJ’s abandonment of Southern Democratic State’s Rights positions.

      • Dominick Vila

        I remember the “Reagan Democrats” and the large numbers of Dems that changed party affiliation immediately after LBJ “betrayed” them. The funniest part of this is that most of these people claim to be Christians, and depend on government handouts, either welfare or pork, to survive. I guess there are certain things much more powerful than humanity, true Christian values, and what is best for us as a nation.

      • idamag

        I have always said if they had to give up their religion or their political party, they would dump their religion. Their treatment of Pope Francis proves it.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    As a former Republican for 33 years, the men of the GOP play silly games with each other. If you know anything about GOP men in the back room, you know they “reward” their most vindictive, most ruthless, repugnant members with plum positions.

    The template will always be the same for the GOP: a white southern or midwestern middle aged male who is ready to slash and burn like a script out of the movie “Firestarter.”

    You have to factor in all of the things GOP men consider the most important things to keep closest to their vests: Oil, Big Insurance, Prisons, Gun Manufacturing and Military Industries. After all, the House is responsible to disperse funds, don’t they?

    So, who in the GOP is up for a reward most for reckless, irresponsible slash and burn if not Paul Ryan? He’ll suck up for Big Oil, McConnell’s addiction to Big Insurance to repeal the ACA and he’ll make sure the NRA lobby to continue gun massacres unabated are not “infringed.”

    The only other potential SOTH is Louie Gohmert. This Texas boy has been at the helm of many Texification issues before the Bush family ever got involved.

    • Dominick Vila

      Democrats will miss a huge opportunity if they don’t highlight Paul Ryan’s 10-point plan, with special emphasis on the dismantling of MEDICARE and privatizing SS. Seniors vote, and they are one of the GOP’s most loyal and powerful constituencies. Nothing will influence the decisions of seniors that knowing what the GOP has in mind for them. Short of free cyanide pills for seniors, Ryan’s plan guarantees a return to the days when seniors depended on their children for survival, or had cat food for dinner.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        One GOP loony this week claims he wants all seniors drug tested who are on Medicare. How mentally ill are these middle aged idiots?

        First of all, most seniors on prescription drugs already have regular blood tests. And does this jackass think we will submit to his demands just so the GOP can slice off a nice chunk of profit for their crony drug testing labs?

        These boys have way too much free time. As Rep. Slaughter told them on Wednesday at the House meeting, “There are more important issues Americans are concerned with.””

        There can never again be a GOP majority in the House. To allow that places our lives in their hands to do with as they please. Want to see how fast seniors protest in mobs?

        • Dominick Vila

          He who messes with Social Security or MEDICARE is likely to have an out of control stampede in his hands.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I so agree. The pieces of the GOP back room agenda become all too clear when the puzzle pieces include privatizing the entire government, reducing the power of the people’s voices in government, flushing money only to Republican states and then taking money Americans pay with each payroll to hand to their campaign donors and to pay for their lobbyists.

            Now really, put the pieces of their GOP jig saw puzzle together and it creates a picture of a one party ruled dictatorship.

            They may label this picture “conservatism.” But, the picture shows the GOP as money hungry idiots ready, willing and able to FORCE others to their way of thinking. That’s been done to death by dictators throughout history and failed.

          • Dominick Vila

            This picture spells a transition to a plutocracy. It started in earnest with the destruction of labor unions, a move designed to deprive American workers a voice, it went into overdrive when Reagan referred to the government as being the problem rather than a solution, and it has continued to this day. The greatest irony is that most of the enablers are those who would benefit the most from organized labor representation, from an effective government, and from the social programs they seem determined to destroy.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I don’t believe that will happen. If you take an overview of the biggest social media venues like FB, you see just how badly the GOP is doing.

            I watched a TV program with a panel of millennials. The topic was who they plan to vote for in 2016. Almost overwhelmingly, the 12 panelists said, Hillary Clinton. Only one of the panel members planned to vote for Bernie Sanders.

            I found that pretty curious. I am always interested in what our younger voters think. When they were asked why they chose the candidate of their choice, all 12 agreed it was due to Hillary’s ability and experience with the DC gamers.

            These millennials are very concerned about the same issues their grandparents are: the future of jobs in the US, the ability to have access to affordable healthcare and the end to so much spending on the military and oil. This surprised me since I’d have thought their first priority would be to lower the cost of college educations. Only 2 panel members touched on this issue. Perhaps, most of the panel already graduated. That wasn’t made clear.

            The southern and midwestern states have lived so long off the hard work and tax dollars of the rest of the states, that they are angling for a way to continue that far into the future.

            Yet, all anyone has to do is take a look at this past week’s House and Senate issues of the GOP to see how singleminded they are about getting rid of the ACA and returning the country to healthcare that consistently skyrockets out of control and turns HMO and Big Pharma CEOs into billionaires.

            My thought is that the GOP will get their comeuppance come 2016. They know Hillary Clinton is most likely to win the election and so now they are all scrambling for power leadership positions they hope will stop what they know Hillary plans to do.

          • Dominick Vila

            I hope you are right. I live in Florida, and the focus in this neck of the woods range from Trump, to Rubio, Ryan and every candidate with an (R) after their names. I believe Hillary will be our next President, but I doubt we will regain control of the Senate, let alone the House. Too many red-purple states.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Actually, the House and Senate will likely gain in Dems. The only hold out states are those that depend all too heavily on tax dollars produced from Dem, not Republican states. That never lasts long.

            People in Dem states are fed up with having most of our tax dollars flushed to Republican states. The news up north is that a lot of our Dem politicians are being hounded about the GOP refusing to spend on dime on our transportation or infrastructure while they expect us to hand over our tax dollars for Republican industries like Big Oil and military industries.

          • Dominick Vila

            I lived and worked in California and Maryland, before I retired and moved to Florida. The political contrast between what we see and hear in blue states, and what resonates in red states almost seems like something from another planet.
            Yes, people in states that are dependent on government handouts and pork should be the first to support government initiatives such as investment in infrastructure and education. Incredibly, or perhaps not, the opposite is true. I believe a Hillary Clinton victory will have coat tails, and I agree with you in that Dems will gain seats in Congress and, perhaps, Governorships. However, our chances of getting control of the House are small to nil.

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            I so agree with you. When I hear the Republicans in the House or Senate speak, it’s like going back in time to the 1950s or an episode of Father Knows Best.

            These guys all act as if they know everything. Which you wouldn’t mind if what they knew made any sense.

          • idamag

            I wish they were as idealistic as the characters in “Father Knows Best.”

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Men who think they have all the answers, are usually fooling themselves first and foremost. Most of the Know it All Twerpie Generation males have big mouths, no brains or common sense and have the attention span of a 6 year old.

            They lack any sense of responsibility and then expect those of us in the older generations to look the other way at their reckless ruthlessness.

            They want their lives to be easier by making those of us who paid our lifetime due struggle and live in abject deprivation.

            The 20 somethings make more sense than their married too late, Happy Hour parents.

        • Irishgrammy

          Boy howdy, I’ll take my arthritic knees, back and hips and march with my walker till the sun goes down and up again! I AM SO fed up with the Republican threats to ending SS and Medicare, threats to end PP funding, a 100 year old organization that has done nothing but good for women’s health, period, and completely fed up with their overt/veiled racist attacks on all people of color, their insults and attacks on women’s issues, their climate change denials, their indifference to our crumbling infrastructure, and the GOPTP’s insufferable thrust for war and contempt for Islam which go hand in hand now and their never ending quest to “privatize every and all things” in this country….which as we can see in the prison industry has led to the highest level of incarceration ever in any civilized country in history(must make a profit)! Everything about the Republican party is simply detestable and I have no respect for a single one of them, put aside the fact so MANY of them are certifiable or flat out hateful beyond all reason!

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Chaffetz had the gall to say this morning that the GOP House pushed 122 pieces of legislation…Then when he was asked about all of that, he glossed over the fact that every piece of those 122 bills would hand money to Republican states in excess of what they already are getting from the rest of us and demolish the middle class, the future of labor and hand Wall Street tons of loopholes to avoid all of the legislation of 2009 that would protect Consumers and all Americans from the thieving right wing and profiteering corporations.

            So when you scutinize GOP House Legislation, it was basically to undo anything that would not safeguard their corporate campaign donors.

            This is a violation of the US Constitution. It’s time for the entire Dem party to force the GOP’s hand. Bullies never like when you call their bluff. It’s long past time to do just that. These big babies have had their fun at our expense and its time to take no prisoners.

    • TZToronto

      Here’s the question: Do we, as progressives, want a GOP Speaker who considers what is good for the country, or do we want a Speaker who panders to the far right of the caucus and the farthest right of the electorate? The first type might actually try to get something done (and maybe get replaced quickly); the other type will do everything possible to ensure that nothing gets done (and keep his new job). The first type would be better for the country, but the second type might, in the long run, serve the interests of the country since the true crackpot nature of the far right would be on display for everyone to see. Boehner wasn’t sufficiently crackpotish for the far right.

      • plc97477

        Which ever way we go should be pretty interesting.

        • TZToronto

          I can’t help but think of that old Chinese curse–May you live in interesting times.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Unfortunately, the GOP doesn’t qualify their constituents as a valid component of their back room agenda. If you watched them in action this past week, it took Dems like Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in the House to fight back and use the words of Chaffetz himself to prove that the GOP House is becoming all too controlling. As Rep. Slaughter told the GOP, there are more important issues than creating one investigating committee after another just because “you don’t like the answers you got.”

        Van Hollen reminded the GOP that they’ve already wasted tens of millions on 8 Benghazi hearings, called only Republicans to sit on those committees and then when they didn’t like what the Republican chosen witnessed stated under oath, they interrupted obnoxiously and supplied their own answers. These are grown men? Or little boys pulling tantrums?

        Chaffetz used a bogus video he knew was edited to use as “proof that PP” was using fetal body parts.

        When Slaughter and the Dems demanded to see the original undedited version, Chaffetz and the Republican House refused. Isn’t this the same BS Nixon pulled with refusing to hand over the Water Gate Tapes for which he was forced to resign?

        How is it not criminal for Chaffetz to refuse to hand over the unedited video he claims is “proof” and what is he hiding? Slaughter warned the Republicans that going after PP was just a GOP “circuitous route to repeal Obamacare.”

        The Republicans are out of control. Our only hope is that their inter party fighting will end like it does in the Corporations…with political bankruptcy and an end to the party.

      • idamag

        Yes, and they destroyed Boehner.

    • Louis Allen

      Lenora dear,
      With you it’s always MEN. MEN are the problem.
      And stolid, ignorant “men” like jiro tanaka and “plebe”97477, who happen to be ALMOST (not quite, babe!) as clueless as you, are obediently heeding your path of venom.
      What a trio of $stupid retards ….

  • oldtack

    Just like 1919 Germany. The German Workers Union evolved to the National Socialist Party then to NAZI Party. Beginnng in 1919 they got their first “foothold” in the German Government. They were known for their opposition to everything proposed by the Government. By 1927 they had managed to collapse the financial structure and then totally took over in 1932. Do you see a ny resemblance to the Tea Party? Anti Government, Walk Lock Step with their faction of the GOP erodong the GOP and replacing with those of their ilk? The worst is about to begin.

    • idamag


  • FT66

    Those who are asking or rather forcing Ryan Paul to jump into the race, won’t be around to defend him when the Taliban Tea Party in Congress will be pulling both of his ears. I agree, each and everything in Congres is in a total shamble.

  • latebloomingrandma

    In the House of Representatives, each Congressperson represents the people in their district. Each district has approximately the same number of people. If there are 435 House members, how do 40 people hold so much sway, and presume to “speak for the American people”? They speak for the people in their own district. Their voice should be proportional, not the boss of the country. Whatever the ridiculous rules are in the House, they should be changed to reflect equal representation of ALL the people. This requires compromise. Just because their crazy constituents are burning up their phone lines does not mean they can brow beat the rest of the country, who are far more in number.

  • jiro tanaka

    Why the Greedy Opportunists Party (GOP) so afraid of the moronic caucus of their own. Are 40 or 45 morons better than the more than 200 greedy.

  • Roger N. Kirkman

    They should draft Farenthold (TX). He’s perfect, since the extent of the incompetence in the House will be obvious much, much quicker. Then we can get back to constructive work.