The conservative media, from George Will to “National Review” to THE WALL STREET JOURNAL to various other commentators and publications, clamored for change in last week’s election for a House of Representatives Majority Leader to succeed Tom DeLay (R-TX). They got it. But then again they didn’t get it. Had John B. Shadegg (R-AZ) been elected there would have been genuine change. Instead, Shadegg withdrew after the first ballot and likely most of his votes were cast for John A. Boehner (R-OH) - all on secret ballot.
I warned Roy Blunt (R-MO), who had been the front runner because he was Acting Majority Leader, of the lie factor. In the twenty-some leadership elections in which I have been active in both Houses every time there were Senators and Representatives who looked their colleague candidate in the eye and said, “I will vote for you” and then didn’t. For the first ballot Blunt had two more commitments than needed for election. He only counted those Members who gave him an unequivocal commitment. If there were the tiniest bit of hesitation or doubt they would not be counted as a yes. For example, if a Member said, “I can’t imagine a circumstance where I wouldn’t be voting for you” he was listed as undecided. Eight Members looked him in the eye and lied.
Roy is a good vote-counter. Witness what he has been able to accomplish in the House. So this clearly was a case of some Members wanting to hedge their bets. They thought Roy would win so they wanted to be able to say they were with him if he did win. But these same Members got caught up in the fervor for change. They hope that by electing Boehner they have shed connections with lobbyists, earmarks, Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay.
I did not support Boehner and tried to be helpful to Blunt. Obviously, we who tried to help Blunt didn’t do enough. That is water over the dam. I wish John Boehner the best in carrying out his responsibilities. If he wants my help he has it.
Let us be realistic in moving forward. While Boehner has had absolutely no known connection to Jack Abramoff, he is certainly no stranger to lobbyists. He did accept gambling money from Abramoff’s Indian clients. In his previous incarnation in the House Leadership Boehner ran an operation specifically designed to get lobbyists to help Republican causes in elections and in lobbying. In the past he has defended lobbyists.