Full of sound and fury signifying very little

Paul Mirengoff:

Of the many takes I’ve read and heard about the inability of House Republicans to select a Speaker right out of the gate, this one by David Harsanyi makes the most sense to me. He considers the story “meaningless.”

That’s not far off. In all likelihood, the Republicans will select a leader before too long. It might be Kevin McCarthy; more likely (I think) it won’t be. Either way, the House will proceed in basically the same fashion.

As Harsanyi puts it:

Of course, somewhere in the vicinity of zero voters will change their worldview or political affiliation because the GOP is taking a few extra days to grind out their leadership vote. . . .

However the vote ends up. . .it won’t matter much because neither side in this battle has anything special or particularly consequential to offer.

The best argument I’ve seen for denying McCarthy the Speakership is that the House needs to change fundamentally the way it does business. Under McCarthy, it will be business as usual.

True. But I doubt that anyone with the faintest chance of becoming Speaker is likely to change fundamentally the way the House does business. Nor is it clear to me that those leading the charge against McCarthy would change it for the better.

The need-for-change argument would carry more weight if this particular House had the ability to make a difference through legislation. It doesn’t. The Dems control the Senate and the White House.

The two roles of the Republican House for the next two years are (1) to prevent the Democrats from enacting bad legislation (they rarely offer any other kind) and (2) to hold hearings. The first of these roles can be carried out under McCarthy, but also under any other member with a chance of becoming Speaker — or so it seems to me.

Ideally, the second role would be influenced by a Speaker capable of exercising good judgment about what to pursue and what not to. However, in the real world I suspect that whoever squeaks his way to the Speakership will have to leave decisions about hearings entirely up to the various committee chairs and/or members.

There is, though, one scenario in which McCarthy’s quest to be Speaker could be consequential. There’s talk that McCarthy will try to make a deal with the Democratic leader Hakim Jeffries whereby, in exchange for concessions, the latter would direct a significant number of his caucus to not show up for a quorum call. In this scenario, which Ed Morrissey discusses here, the amount of votes needed for a majority of those present would shrink to a number McCarthy perhaps could obtain.

For what it’s worth, I doubt this ploy will come to fruition. But if it does, then given the concessions McCarthy probably would have to make, the consequences could be significant.

Otherwise, the current drama signifies little other than score settling and posturing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s