Armstrong Williams

Posted October 06, 2015

Although I have never formally met outgoing House Speaker John Boehner which is interesting in itself given that we travel in close circles - I feel like I know him well. In fact, I have seen him many an early morning walking in Washington. As I am leaving Results gym on Capitol Hill at six a.m. after working out, I usually see the speaker walking with his security detail in the early morning darkness. Often it is the light of the tell-tale cigarette ember that harkens our parallel rituals.

For the past several years, this has been our usual routine. Literally passing like ships in the night, the smoke-stack a solemn acknowledgment of an unspoken voyage, mutually undertaken at the break of dawn. I have often wondered whether the habit of smoking was how the Speaker dealt with the stress of it all perhaps how he balanced in anticipation of a long day of fighting, both within and outside his party to craft a framework for Republican leadership amidst a fractured Congress and a divided nation.

In many ways, the job of the speaker of the house is much like that of a craftsman. He has to take the various planks the needs of diverse constituencies under the majority party banner - and cut and shape them to fit a workable platform for governing. This has traditionally been a stable profession in Washington. Tip ONeill, the legendary Democrat, served as Speaker of the House for 11 years until he finally retired in 1987 after 34 years in Congress.

But not so today. Many of the new members have come to the House with a mandate from the district to burn the barn down, not to fix it. I can understand where such cynicism comes from. It comes from an American voting public that is fed up with the go-along to get along nature of politics in Washington. They feel as if their demands of government the very reason they elect representatives gets watered-down and drowned out amidst the horse-trading, backdoor deal-making and backslapping that has come to characterize what many see as an entrenched Washington elite. They feel the only way they can be heard is to shake things up, to disrupt business as usual, even at the cost of doing any business at all.

Speaker Boehner was once such a member. He came to the forefront as the leader of the opposition to Obamacare refusing to even entertain the president when he came to Capitol Hill to try and sell the deal to Congress. He embraced the role of the obstructionist as the mantle of the minority which was to counter the bully pulpit with a loud shout from the gallery. He rose to power on that basis seen by many as the unifying voice of the outnumbered who could only make their voices heard by standing in the path of what was perceived at the time as the Democratic machine set to steamroll through Washington.

But this model of leadership would come back to plague Boehner and the Republican establishment when they assumed the majority in 2011. In what has become a textbook case of the tail wagging the dog, newly elected members from the Tea Party wing came in and immediately started shaking things up. They forced the Congress to shut down the government rather than negotiate in good faith with the president and Democrats in Congress. This move was largely seen as damaging to the Republican Party, and rather than enable the Tea Party to push through its agenda, has driven the country into a political impasse that continues until today.

By the beginning of Obamas second term, theatrical obstructionism has officially replaced constructive engagement as the congressional mantra. Its one thing to stand in opposition as the minority party. But as the years passed, Boehner found himself at the helm of a deeply fractured majority. He was forced to expend considerably more effort corralling his own members than actually doing the business of government. And this frustrated an already frustrated electorate to the point of near rebellion as evidenced by the rise of the outsider in this years presidential contest. But the fact remained that doing any deal with the president even a deal widely seen as a win for the majority would be seen in the eyes of many as a win for the president. In a purely partisan reality any win for the president was seen as a loss for the Congress rather than a win for the American people. Thus, in a sense, doing nothing became the de facto governing framework over which Boehner, through no fault of his own, found himself presiding.

Posted September 29, 2015

Putting aside the debate over whether Iran, under the proposed Nuclear deal with the US, will have the ability to create nuclear weapons in the near future, lets for a moment discuss the irrefutable risk this deal imposes right now; it funds further Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

Posted September 15, 2015

The Jewish people have cause for concern. It is hard to remember a time within the past 50 years when they had so many reasons to feel alone and under fire. The United Nations seems to relish any opportunity to castigate the state of Israel, holding it to a higher standard than any other country and heaping derision on an amazing country that should be praised for its commitment to making Israel a modern-day light unto the nations.

Posted September 15, 2015

In the coming days Jews in Israel and worldwide will celebrate Rosh Hashanahthe start of the new year 5776. During the ensuing days of awe, the Jewish people will gather together, search their souls, repent for their sins and stand humbly before the Heavenly Father to ask for his blessing.

Posted September 08, 2015

One of the striking facets of the economic downturn that started in 2008 and the recovery that has continued until today is the unprecedented slack in the American labor force. While on its face unemployment has dropped to pre-recession levels, labor force participation remains strikingly low. Wages have remained stagnant with consequential effects on consumer demand and economic growth.

Posted September 04, 2015

Despite her assertions to the contrary, the controversy over Hillary Clintons email address is not just an issue for the reporters she wishes would stop peppering her with questions on the topic.

Posted August 25, 2015

On the first anniversary of the controversial death of Michael Brown last week, protesters in Ferguson, Missouri took to the street with the urgent message that black lives matter.

Posted August 18, 2015

My most recent trip to London was probably one of the most enjoyable and enlightening since I began travelling to Europe during the summers over 20 years ago. My previous trips had focused mostly on the Romance countries, France and Italy, which I also love and revere.

Posted August 12, 2015

The mullahs in Iran call the United States the Great Satan, but we are the ones who just made a deal with the devil. And this devil also just hit the jackpot.

Posted August 04, 2015

The Center for Medical Progress yielded pertinent and truthful information about an alarming trend in Planned Parenthood's orientation to the health of their patients. Its actions should constitute fair game.

Posted July 28, 2015

One of the things that really stood out over the past few weeks in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina is the incredible grace with which the community of Charleston has borne both its own anguish as well as the intense international media circus that has enveloped the town.

Posted July 21, 2015

With every night that we lock our doors and go to bed feeling safe from any immediate threats, we are only fooling ourselves and letting a very real threat draw nearer.

Posted July 13, 2015

The international banking cartels estimation of the Greek peoples total capitulation to banker rule may have backfired.

Posted June 23, 2015

Our job as people of faith and those who are from the community of Charleston is to keep moving forward. We must grieve and we must heal.

Posted June 16, 2015

Lets face it with the grand debut of Bruce Jenner as a woman named Caitlyn (and the accompanying demand from the liberal media that we take it as anything more serious than attention-seeking narcissism) we have finally arrived at the post-postmodern era.

Posted June 09, 2015

"While America was undoubtedly founded upon a bedrock of religious freedom it is equally true that the Christian faith has been probably the greatest contributor the social fabric of this country."

Posted June 02, 2015

Former South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworths trial started Tuesday, May 30, 2015. The 43-year-old Sioux Falls physician was accused by State Attorney General Marty Jackley of having committed what is commonly referred to as voter fraud.

Posted May 27, 2015

For a selected few in the know, the elections of President Obama and the passage of his signature health care act mark not the pinnacle (as is widely assumed) but rather the twilight end of a golden era of racial progress and progressive social policy in America.

Posted May 19, 2015

In our effort to halt the Iranian progress toward a nuclear weapons capability, timing is critical.

Posted May 12, 2015

When African-Americans marched on Washington to hear the historic I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King, they were pressing for a society that looked very much like that in which they already lived a society built on freedom; a society that protected life, liberty and the pursuits of happiness among its citizens.