The Not-Quite Silence of the Moment

U.S. Capitol building at dusk on a winter's eve. (Photo credit: Peterson)

And now it gets interesting … er …ah … proverbially. You know. Never mind:

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) has declared his candidacy to replace Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as Speaker.

“My goal is for the House of Representatives to be based on principle, not on power,” Webster said in a statement. “Every Member of Congress deserves a seat at the table to be involved in the process. I will continue fighting for this to become a reality in Washington, and will be running for Speaker of the House.”


House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) participates in the press conference announcing House GOP leadership for the upcoming session of Congress on Thursday, 13 November 2014.  (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)House custom would see Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23) ascend to the gavel, and early rumors of a potential challenge from Majority Whip Steve Scalise were undone when the Republican from Louisiana’s First announced he was after McCarthy’s current job. Meanwhile, House Republican leaders are distancing themselves from challenging McCarthy’s ascension, and radio host Mark Levin is trying to rally public outcry against McCarthy.

This could certainly get interesting.

But this is also the point in the story where my divine powers as an anti-prophet kick in, because let’s face it, just how badly can this part go? The Tea Party generation has empowered hardliners, and all those seem to be good for is mucking things up as if they’re trying to prove the thesis about government not working. The problem establishment Republicans face is that given the reins, these wingnut jokers could seriously damage the Party. The tinfoils and tricorners have managed to so bungle the Beltway that the Speaker of the House of Representatives just resigned. In futility. In the end, he hung on to hold his Party together, and John Boehner couldn’t even do that.

But while the Tea Party is a wrecking crew, there really is no indication they can do anything constructive; indeed, we have extraordinary signs to the virtual opposite, that they resent governing.

Less subtly, Mr. Webster, the Distinguished Gentleman from Florida’s Tenth, staged an oddball challenge to Boehner’s Speakership earlier this year. And with the hard-right House Freedom Caucus growling of bloc voting and having the power to “prevent anybody from becoming Speaker”, perhaps the e’er exacerbating rift ‘twixt the GOP’s right wing and what passes for Republican realism will offer even greater spectacles in the coming months.

Think of it this way: A little over thirteen months until the presidential election, and the Speaker of the House just resigned. With the Trump effect denigrating the presidential contest and the Tea Party effect embarrassing Congress, the Republican National Committee seems absolutely impotent; just how is the Grand Ol’ Party going to make it to Election Day? Is there anybody actually in charge?


Alman, Ashley and Ryan Grim. “11 Things About Kevin McCarthy You Need To Know, Or Might As Well Know”. The Huffington Post. 25 September 2015.

Alpert, Bruce. “Steve Scalise to run for House majority leader, sources say”. The Times-Picayune. 25 September 2015.

Hahn, Julia. “Mark Levin Warns House Republicans: Do Not Support Kevin McCarthy For Speaker”. Breitbart. 25 September 2015.

Palmer, Anna, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan. “Resignation triggers all-out leadership scramble”. Politico. 25 September 2015.

Richardson, Bradford. “Webster announces run for Speaker”. The Hill. 25 September 2015.

Wong, Scott. “Run for Speaker makes Webster a rock star”. The Hill. 14 January 2015.


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