Dennis Hastert

Required Reading: The Shadow over Columbia

Poor John

As the drama continues on Capitol Hill, there is this from David Hawkings of Roll Call:

Ryan has proven experience in drafting provocative budgetary blueprints, a zeal for shaping innovative tax simplification plans and a solid record as a party fundraiser to go along with all his perceived potential to heal the GOP’s profound internal injuries.

But that seemingly almost impossible task won’t be made an easier by the one gap in his resume that his allies are portraying among his virtues: He has no real experience running the House or attending to the day-to-day needs of his colleagues.

He’s never done the floor leader’s work of managing the legislative calendar or the whip’s job of counting and corralling votes. He’s never been charged with the overall messaging, policy development, campaign strategy and internal GOP organizational tasks that are the purview of the other leaders.

Maybe most notably of all, he’s never gotten his hands dirty in what’s euphemistically dubbed “member services” — the catchall work of mediating petty turf wars, granting oddball VIP favors, providing late-night sustenance, refereeing travel requests, finding extra office space, bird-dogging personal behavior and intervening to prevent ethical transgressions.

Most of those high-risk and concertedly below-the-radar thankless tasks get performed by the floor leaders and whips, which helps explain why all but one speaker since World War II was previously in one or both jobs for at least a combined five years. And the exception, Republican J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, was a serious practitioner of the member services dark arts as the appointed chief deputy whip for four years.

Now, go read the rest of it. And remember, if you read Roll Call and The Hill, you don’t need cable news.

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Fuller, Matt. “Speaker Election Delay Stirs Conservative Anger”. 218. Roll Call. 9 October 2015.

Hawkings, David. “Next Speaker Unlikely to Continue Long String of Leadership Insiders”. Hawkings Here. Roll Call. 10 October 2015.

Lillis, Mike. “Top GOP strategist: House leadership turmoil ‘a good thing'”. The Hill. 10 October 2015.

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Regular Chaos

U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R/UT-03), left, and Daniel Webster (R/FL-10). in detail of frame from msnbc, 6 October 2015.

“The job of the Speaker of the House is not to preside over regular order. The Speaker’s job is to expedite the will of the majority party, to keep the trains running on time and to otherwise protect the prerogatives and the power of the House of Representatives.”

John Feehery

John Feehery is of the sort whose conservative credentials should not be dismissed lightly, though in the contemporary GOP that would put the Republican strategist and former aide to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL14) squarely within the establishment wing of the Party. And he offers up a fine recollection for The Hill about, “The myth of regular order”.

Pay attention:

When Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) became Speaker, he too promised regular order. Indeed, he famously allowed the House to work its will early on in his tenure, in 2011, to have the Rules Committee allow members to offer countless amendments to spending bills, to give his members more access to the levers of power.

But the conflict between the will of the majority of the House and the majority of his majority became untenable. A clear majority — including the Speaker — wanted action on a comprehensive immigration bill, but his Republican Conference did not. A clear majority wanted to lift the budget caps, but a majority of his majority did not. A clear majority in the House did not want the government to shut down, but his conference clearly thought that shutting it down was a necessary exercise in a battle of wills with President Obama.

We might take a moment for his generosity, of course, on that last, which might well have been an exercise in cynically letting the backbenchers charge the enemy guns because they’re too stupid not to, and this isn’t the day to force a no-confidence vote.

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Spiritual Warfare, Among Other Things

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd speaks to the faithful in Columbus, Ohio, June 16, 2015. Floyd exhorted members to stand united against same-sex marriage and vows that he will never officiate a same-sex union. (Eric Albrecht/Columbus Dispatch via AP)

We may or may not have mentioned before something about bigots, victimhood, and insurrection.α

If I told you we could add the Southern Baptist Convention to the list, would you really be surprised?

Or, as Craig Schneider of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains:

Declaring “spiritual warfare” on gay marriage, thousands gathered here Tuesday for the annual Southern Baptist Convention and vowed that, no matter what the Supreme Court rules this month, they will never yield on the issue.

The Baptists acknowledged that the court seems likely to legalize same-sex marriage when it rules in the next two weeks, but leaders urged the faithful to stand fast and, indeed, lead the nation in opposition.

“We are in spiritual warfare,” said convention president Rev. Ronnie Floyd. “This is not a time for Southern Baptists to stand back.”

Floyd echoed a generally defiant tone among attendees, many of them pastors, who have faced increasing criticism for their belief that the Bible declares homosexuality a sin and limits marriage to a man and a woman. At a time when society is increasingly tolerant of same-sex unions, he said, Southern Baptists must stand by their views.

“This is not the time to retreat,” said Floyd, who leads Cross Church in Arkansas. “The alarm clock is going off around the world. Now is not the time to hit the snooze button.”

And it goes on. Fuel to the “wildfire of sexual revolution” that would “move it beyond all control”. At least Dr. Floyd is honest about the connection between sexuality and control. But this is also an attempt by Southern Baptists to paint themselves as victims of gross injustice:

Many of their congregants, sensing the shifting cultural climate on gay marriage, feel defensive and afraid to publicly state their views, wary of being cast as bigots or hate-mongers.

“We understand how fully unpopular our view is, and where the culture is on this issue,” said the Rev. Bryant Wright of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in East Cobb and a former convention president. “But we must stay true to God’s word.”

Wright acknowledged the difficulty of communicating that church members are not hateful or discriminatory against gays and lesbians, though Baptists do believe they are sinners. He noted that he preaches to teens who have sex outside of marriage, people who divorce, and those who commit adultery. He loves them and hopes they find their way, he said.

Let us be clear: When you are calling for warfare of any kind, spiritual or otherwise, in response to the fact that other people have human rights, there is not really any useful way to slip the question of bigotry; nor do people believe the claim that you are not hateful or discriminatory.

Really, that part seems pretty self-evident.

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The Important Thing

WASHINGTON — NOVEMBER 17: U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Republican Conference leadership elections alone on Capitol Hill November 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest-serving Speaker of the House but is now scorned for losing control of the House to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This is the only thing you need to know about the spectacular awfulness accused of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert:

Jolene said she asked her brother why he never told anyone. “And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'”

(Ross, Schwartz, and Capell)

This includes never.

And never includes the time before Mr. Hastert rose to lead the United States House of Representatives.

There will be continued scorn toward hypocrisy and his role in American sexual moralism, and when it comes to spectacular headlines accusing that a former Speaker of the House of Representatives is a serial sexual predator, there are certain things that might get lost along the way.

Jolene said she believes the abuse ended when Steve moved away after his high school graduation in 1971. Reinboldt died of AIDS in 1995. She believes Hastert’s alleged actions irrevocably changed Steve’s life for the worse.

This is what it does. This is why it cannot be.

“And he just turned around and kind of looked at me and said, ‘Who is ever going to believe me?'”

And that is every day in these United States.

This is an awful scandal. It will be spectacularly horrible. But there are things about this story that were true and important before it ever happened, remain so now, and will continue as such after the headlines have passed.

And those things require address.

So, you know, if there’s one thing to remember from all of this, we should probably make it the really, really important one.

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Image note: Detail ― U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) leaves the House Republican Conference leadership elections alone on Capitol Hill November 17, 2006 in Washington, DC. Hastert is the longest-serving Speaker of the House but is now scorned for losing control of the House to the Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ross, Brian, Rhonda Schwartz, and John Capell. “Exclusive: Alleged Dennis Hastert Sex Abuse Victim Named by Family”. ABC News. 5 June 2015.