|John Boehner in 2009.|
I am no fan of Boehner, never was, and if this was an earlier time, I’d be saying, “good riddance”. However, these times are nothing like the past, and the current Republican Party hates Boehner. His departure merely clears the way for the Republican Party to lurch even farther to the right—a year out from a presidential election.
Pundits are saying that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the favourite to become the new Speaker, and in earlier times, that would be true. But he’s unlikely to have the votes unless Democrats vote for him, too, because the radical right teabaggers will compromise with no one, not even a Republican.
The teabaggers want to shut down the US Government unless Congress cuts off funding for Planned Parenthood, based on those totally debunked propaganda videos put out by an anti-abortion activist group. The teabaggers know that if Republicans push through a spending bill that “defunds” Planned Parenthood, President Obama will almost certainly veto the bill, and Republicans don’t have the votes to override the veto, so the government will shut down—roughly a year from a presidential election.
Republicans shutting down the government yet again because of their stubbornness and intransigence on their radical right agenda—especially on an issue that would reinforce the party’s image as waging a war on women—will not go over well with mainstream voters, and will piss them off even more than this stunt did before. Not that the teabaggers care, of course: They only care about ideological purity, not what’s good for the country.
All of which matters because unless McCarthy commits to the teabaggers’ radical-right agenda, “defunding” Planned Parenthood in particular, they’ll all vote against him, and McCarthy can then win only if Democrats vote for him.
But if not McCarthy, who? ThinkProgress highlights the four men (they’re always men in that party…), one of whom “probably will be the next Speaker of the House”, and the other options are a bunch of extremist tossers: Climate change deniers, anti-LGBT bigots, leaders in the party’s war on women, strong advocates for the extremely wealthy and the obscenely wealthy—the usual teabagger extremist agendas, and all of them would scare the hell out of mainstream voters.
So, is it really in Democrats’ best interests to back McCarthy? Could it even seriously be in the country’s best interest?
Democrats could take the high road and say, for the good of the country, they’ll support McCarthy over any of his nutjob rivals. Or, they could bloc-vote for a Democrat and let Republicans fight and fight and fight. However, the reality is that even if Democrats support McCarthy, it won’t stop the constant sniping from the teabaggers in the House, nor their attempts to shut down the government, so McCarthy would be constantly fighting his own party just as Boehner did.
So, in a sense, it doesn’t really matter what Democrats do: Either way, Republicans will be fighting each other—and, ultimately, mainstream American voters—right up to the presidential election. Strategically, however, it may make the most sense to make a huge show of backing McCarthy—and saying it’s for the good of the country. This will contrast them strongly with Republicans—and even Boehner’s “for the good of the party” stance—while at the same time emboldening the teabaggers (who, in their most honest moments admit they consider Democrats to be traitors) to keep fighting their own leader, drawing even more contrast between the rational Democrats and the irrational—and downright crazy—Republicans. Meanwhile, there will be a Speaker. Win/win for all—especially America, because by overplaying their hand once again, the teabaggers may motivate the American people to finally oust the radicals.
In any case, pop the popcorn: This could be very entertaining.