Thursday, October 08, 2015

Who's In Charge Here?

What in tarnation is going on in the Republican Party?  

John Boehner, who's been Speaker of the House since 2006, resigns at the end of this month, essentially saying, "I can't manage this any more."

Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, Boehner's number two, and the candidate elect for next speaker, withdrew today from the contest because he "doesn't have 218 votes."  Wait - he's the guy who is supposed to marshal the votes in his party, and he can't elect himself leader?

In the next 3 weeks or so, Congress has to pass resolutions extending the debt limit (so the country can pay its bills) and funding the government (so it can operate at all).  Normally this is managed in the House by the Speaker and the Majority leader, and they both just quit, and the election for a new speaker has been postponed with no new date.

This is all going on because there is a hard-core group of House Republicans, maximum about 40 people, who refuse to negotiate or bargain or compromise on anything at all, and apparently the Republican leadership is SO afraid of them that they have all just backed down.

In addition, Donald Trump, who has the political expertise of a lawn gnome and the charm of a carnival barker, is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and a majority of the California Republicans believe he'll likely take the nomination.  (I can't support that with a link, but I heard it on NPR in the last day or so.)

Republicans are the majority party, currently in charge in both houses of Congress.  These people are supposed to govern our country.  We already know they don't want to increase taxes to do things like repair roads and bridges, and maybe take care of the vets from all the wars they've started, because raising taxes would annoy their rich donors.  Now they can't even agree on who shall be their spokesman (it certainly won't be a woman) in the House of Representatives, because of a minority (40 out of 247) of uncooperative loudmouths.

Full disclosure:  I'm a Democrat.  But I remember a Republican Party that could govern.  It could negotiate and bargain (that's what governing is) and produce legislation that both sides agreed on, that was actually good for the country.  Hell, it was a governing party under Ronald Reagan, and I never thought I'd look back on the Reagan administration as a beacon of rational governance.

There has to be some kind of resolution to this, but right now I don't see where it'll come from.