Chaos: House Republicans in Complete Disarray, No Easy Fix in Sight

Guy Benson
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Posted: Oct 08, 2015 2:56 PM
Chaos: House Republicans in Complete Disarray, No Easy Fix in Sight
UPDATE - News:


- Original Post -


Boehner's out.

McCarthy's out.

Now what? Nobody seems to have the faintest clue. Capitol Hill sources are uniformly astonished and bewildered by the whirlwind of disunity and dysfunction that has pushed Republicans' historically large House majority in to open chaos.  A top leadership aide declined to even speculate on when the hastily-postponed Speaker election might take place.  Of the two remaining candidates for the position, one is an obscure back-bencher with little institutional support; the other is sowing doubts about his own fitness for the job:


It's a common refrain these days, but its undeniable truth bears repeating: Given the unchanged political dynamics within the fractured GOP caucus, who would want this job right now? The next Speaker will inevitably endure harsh criticism a relatively small group of dissatisfied conservatives, who often seem long on complaints but short on workable strategies.  This faction's intransigence has hamstrung party leaders repeatedly over the last five years; they've now collected two prized "establishment" scalps, yet appear to have no viable alternative in mind.  The next Speaker will answer to dozens of moderate-leaning members intent on retaining swing district seats won over back-to-back midterm landslides.  The next Speaker will also contend with an entrenched, very liberal, very disciplined Democratic minority -- on whom he or she may occasionally be forced to rely for votes, thanks to the "hell no" hard-right flank's tactics.  (This phenomenon, incidentally, affords Democrats much more leverage than they'd otherwise have, allowing them to extract policy concessions as a price for their cooperation, making legislation less conservative).  And the next Speaker will have to navigate all of these perilous crosscurrents with a string of unpleasant deadlines looming:


Once again, plausible consensus picks are shrinking from the spotlight. Trey Gowdy wants to continue pressing forward on the Benghazi committee, whose work and reputation was damaged by Kevin McCarthy's foolish recent remarks.  McCarthy conceded today that his major gaffe contributed to his decision to withdraw from the Speaker's race.  Paul Ryan, who is among the best-positioned Republicans to try to pick up the pieces, wants no part of it, preferring to maintain his powerful chairmanship and influence the party's agenda as a wonky ideas leader.  Any chance he might reconsider?  Doesn't look like it:


Katie suggested Cathy McMorris Rodgers, but as a member of the current leadership team, does she have the ability to heal the caucus and shake the dreaded "establishment" label?  Tough task.  And when frustrated conservatives inevitably turn their rhetorical fire against her, does anyone doubt for a nanosecond that Democrats would exploit the fissure as the latest evidence of the Right's mythical "war on women"?  See, they even attack their own women, they'd gleefully point out.  What about an interim Speaker -- someone who's retiring or who pledges to vacate the chair after the 2016 election?  Two big problems.  First:


Not only would a lame duck Speaker be a fundraising catastrophe for the party, the ongoing uncertainty and internecine fighting would hand Democrats a turnkey electoral message in races across the country: "Republicans are manifestly incapable of governing the country.  They can't even govern their own party."  Let's not sugarcoat this: An ideological and tactical crisis has befallen the Republican Party.  The road to reconciliation is unclear at best.  A haze of confusion and resentment has set in.  What comes next is literally anyone's guess.  I'll leave you with one name to keep an eye on, and a telling quote from the ex-next Speaker: 


Is this rock bottom?  Nah, it could conceivably get even worse: