“I am not a member of any organized political party,” Will Rogers said. “I am a Democrat.”
Republicans were no doubt thinking the same thing last week, as it took 15 votes over most of a week to elect Kevin McCarthy Speaker of the House.
Democrats cackled with glee at the “chaos” among Republicans, chaos strong-arm Speaker Nancy Pelosi never would have put up with. Democrats would have been hanging from the yardarms if they publicly defied Pelosi like the House Freedom Caucus defied McCarthy.
There was plenty of angry infighting among Republicans. Opinions were spread out like a dog’s breakfast, with no less than the Wall Street Journal referring to the Republican “Chaos Caucus.” Last Thursday a Journal editorial asked why anyone would want the job of Speaker.
Former Republican Speakers sometimes compare leading their members to “herding cats.” Speaker John Boehner compared it to keeping 218 “frogs in a wheelbarrow.” But for Speaker Pelosi, making the trains run on time looked more like lining up prisoners for the morning count. That’s the kind of discipline she maintained.
Discipline, it must be noted, that resulted in the 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion “omnibus” spending bill, loaded down with over 7,000 porky “earmarks,” that passed two weeks ago. (With the help of 18 Republicans in the Senate, and six Republicans in the House. And we wonder why the term “Republican in name only” keeps coming up?)
So the Democrat version of discipline saddles our grandkids with crippling debt and the real possibility of insolvency. What else do you call adding trillions to the debt at an accelerating rate? And when was the last time you heard anyone other than the Freedom Caucus actually proposing to do something about the crazy spending? (Even Trump didn’t.)
Plenty of Republicans were “embarrassed” that McCarthy didn’t organize a well-oiled, disciplined, goose-stepping march to the speaker’s job. They were mortified by the unruly process.
But, taking a few days to elect a speaker can’t hold a candle to spending $1.7 trillion, in a bill released in the middle of the night, and voted on before even Evelyn Wood could speed read it. That’s what I call embarrassing.
And yet on “Morning Joe,” Joe Scarborough called Republicans who voted against McCarthy “weirdos,” and “wackos, freaks, insurrectionists, and anti-vaxxers.” (Goodness gracious!) Joe’s co-host Mika compared the Republican Party to “a runaway beer truck.”
So, one might conclude, the choice we face is a party of wackos, or a party of crazed spendthrifts. (I say CNBC financial expert Rick Santelli said it best years ago: “STOP SPENDING!”)
There were lighter moments last week. The cameras zoomed in on newly-elected Republican Rep. George Santos, who is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) of Liars. He “embellished” about his education, his religion, his work history, and his family history. He stands head and shoulders above weak sauce liars like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who has less Native American blood than Donald Trump), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (who got confused about whether or not he served in Vietnam). (He didn’t.)
Ultimately, the GOAT of Liars voted for McCarthy, who was in no position to be picky.
So it looks like we Republicans have a lot in common with Will Rogers’ Democrats.
But, if our runaway beer truck of chaos can neuter the lunatic spenders (in both parties), that will be real progress. Imagine a world in which lawmakers got 72 hours to actually read a bill. In which separate budget bills are passed throughout the year instead of lumped together in one 4,000-page telephone book of take-it-or-leave-it excess on Christmas Eve. In which your representative could actually propose amendments to bills instead of getting a single up-or-down last-minute vote. In which bills were limited to one subject, instead of throwing everything in, including the kitchen sink. (You can’t do that in our legislature.)
In which people like us, fiscal conservatives, play important roles on key committees, where they can throw a blessed wrench into the gears of ruinous deficit spending.
It’s a long shot in a world up to now run by the super spendthrifts, the pigs with their snouts in the trough, but last week’s “chaos” could result in something really good.
For the sake of our grand kids, we can only hope.