Unsteady ground under GOP congressional leaders?

There is talk about Republican leaders in the House and even the Senate “measuring the drapes” in anticipation of winning a majority in the November elections. If they are, they might not want to order drapes in their own favorite color just yet.

After all, what does it say about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s grip on his job that two of the people he chose as his closest confidants may not be back in the Senate come January? (Bob Bennett of Utah already lost his primary; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is trailing a challenger pending the counting of absentee ballots.)

From the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney:

Murkowski was one of McConnell’s rising stars. He tapped her for his inner circle in her first term, and she also got a spot on the Appropriations Committee. The darling of Alaska’s former senior senator, Ted Stevens, Murkowski rocketed through the ranks. This year, she was elected secretary of the Senate Republican Conference, one of the top six leadership roles. After Stevens lost re-election in 2008, McConnell took her under his wing. “Lisa is the new powerhouse in Alaska,” he told Roll Call. “She will fill the vacuum left by Ted.”

And her Senate record resembled Stevens’ — while she had a long climb to match the porking prowess of Stevens, her $704 million in earmarks over the past three fiscal years puts her in the same league as the biggest earmarkers. She has a moderate voting record, but she isn’t at the left end of the GOP. Ultimately, she is a loyal Republican who isn’t terribly ideological. This was the profile for McConnell’s “counsels.”

But Joe Miller, the former judge and Army veteran who appears to have beaten her in the primary, pending counting of all absentee ballots, is of a different stripe. Miller is not merely conservative, he’s unyielding, supremely self-confident, and self-reliant. He will come to Washington seeing the whole town and its customs — quite possibly including collegiality and tradition of the Senate — as the enemy.

“It’s the same story,” Carney continues, in Utah, where Mike Lee is the tea party candidate who upset Bennett.

There will be a lot of focus on the (lack of) ideological flexibility, as Carney puts it, of these potential new senators — along with Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sharron Angle of Nevada and Ken Buck of Colorado. But there have been philosophically stubborn senators before, on both sides of the aisle. Ideology is part of the equation, but so is accountability. And the party that claims to be about limited government can’t very well have big-time earmarkers among its inner circle if it wants to be taken seriously.

So, I think the more interesting question to ponder is Carney’s prediction that Alaska’s Miller would “come to Washington seeing the whole town and its customs — quite possibly including collegiality and tradition of the Senate — as the enemy.”

For all the talk about the tea party’s ideology, I think its members’ opposition to The System, the good-ol-boying, the looking after No. 1 first and last and in between, is an equally defining characteristic of the movement. If these candidates are elected, there will be some unexpected consequences — possibly including new leadership within their party’s caucus.

35 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

August 31st, 2010
12:22 pm

So what’s the plan this time, last plan didn’t work? Not getting elected, getting results.

Churchill's MOM

August 31st, 2010
12:25 pm

I hope you are correct. I don’t see any difference in the 2 parties other than which set of lobbyist that pays them off. Look at our socialist jr senator, johnny, author of no child left behind, author of the $34,000,000,000.00 housing bailout, supported of the farm bill and TARP backer. If there is a 3rd part candidate running, they have my vote.

Question Authority

August 31st, 2010
12:35 pm

The saddest part of the primary election season is that the entrenched GOP senators and congressman did not lose their primaries. Yes, the democrats are bad, but the republican “leadership” under the control of clowns like McConnel need to go more than the democrats. A GOP victory of these same big government, big war spending, anti-freedom types will just take us back to the same goose-step mentality that plagued the GOP under King George the 2nd (W). We cannot affor a foreign policy of global domination and destruction any more than we can afford a domestic policy of welfare and socialism. The entire stable needs to be cleaned of the manure but it appears as though many of the turds will be floating back into the capitol come November.

MiltonMan

August 31st, 2010
12:36 pm

Kyle, you are looking at this incorrectly. You see, we conservatives are getting fed-up with these RINOS. Unlike libtards who keep electing morons like Pelosi, Reid, Sharpton, Bernice Johnson, Rangel, etc. etc. we are in the process of cleaning house.

Communist AJC

August 31st, 2010
12:43 pm

MiltonMan

You’re right about cleaning house. People like Tucker and Bookman will write the November elections off as “nothing to worry about.”

F. Sinkwich

August 31st, 2010
12:48 pm

Jim DeMint should become Senate Majority Leader if the GOP can get control.

Churchill's MOM

August 31st, 2010
12:50 pm

MiltonMan 12:36 pm

If you are correct then the Corrupt Dael would not be the GOP candidate for Governor.

Churchill's MOM

August 31st, 2010
12:51 pm

SB Corrupt Deal not Corrupt Dael, I need a proof reader.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

August 31st, 2010
12:59 pm

Good argument, I am with friend Sinkwich above, Tom DeMint could be a breath of fresh air, and such a break with the past would be a party impetus for 2012.

Jane

August 31st, 2010
1:13 pm

Well, at least it is logically consistent–if you are going to get rid of “big government” get rid of all of it. But I don’t think you would like actually living in the third world conditions when old people have no social security and are starving in the streets, or the poor beg in the streets like in India. Or maybe you would like that. If you are rich enough you can build yourself a walled in city and keep the “scum” out. Maybe you can even go back to wearing powdered wigs and turn them all into peasant slaves who work to keep you dripping in gold and diamonds. But it’s their fault for being born right?

rant and roll

August 31st, 2010
1:19 pm

With McConnell and Boehner at the helm we will continue to see the brain dead- political party- first mentality that has dominated Congress since Newt. It isn’t a party thing it is a country thing. I will only vote for candidates that speak about what they can do for the US. I do not want party followers in power. We do not need Political Officers (Soviet Union) keeping Congressmen in line. We need men and women that understand their responsibility.

Leaders like Scott Brown understand it is country before party. (Same with John McCain 2000)

I don’t believe Obama is always wrong and I don’t think W was always right. Unfortunately too many of these clowns in Congress want to keep their jobs and not do their jobs.

arnold

August 31st, 2010
1:46 pm

It won’t matter. In the long run they are all politicians with their hands out. They will end up party and lobbist faithful. They will owe tons of favors for the money.

jconservative

August 31st, 2010
1:48 pm

There have been a few new senators who came to town with a disdain for the tradition & collegiality of the senate only to change after a couple of years. They find that those “entrenched” members who do wrap themselves in collegiality and tradition do not cooperate with those who do not play the game. This has been going on for over 200 years.

The “outsiders” always become “insiders”. Special interests with pockets full of cash do not hand it out to those who do not deliver.
And only members of the “club” can deliver.

And so it will be with Miller, Lee, Paul, Angle and Buck; assuming that they actually make it.

retiredds

August 31st, 2010
1:54 pm

It is becoming clearer by the day (or should I say the daylight) that the Mr. Murdock and the Koch brothers will be calling in the chips of the Tea Party candidates once they reach the seat of power. It doesn’t matter what party one calls themselves or how they cloak their “ideals”, the $$$$ talk and those beholden to the $$$$ sugar daddies will pay up sooner or later, that you can count on.

JF McNamara

August 31st, 2010
2:07 pm

They’ll get there and be the same as everyone else because they want to be re-elected. Earmarks, defense contracts, tax breaks, and better social programs get you re-elected. Its what all Americans want and generally what we get. If everybody else around the country is getting stuff and my district isn’t, then my guy has to go. I’ll just be paying for everyone else to be better off than me.

Port O'John

August 31st, 2010
2:29 pm

I remember the small-government, Contract for America, Republican Revolution of ‘94. The GOP was going to take back the country and many candidates promised to only serve 3 terms in the House, two in the senate.

How did that work out? It sure turned out to be the same old same old.

Now it looks like we will have a GOP majority in the house that is unflexible in its belief system and believes that anyone who disagrees with them hates America, is a secret jihadist, nazi, communist, etc., and deserves only contempt. Kind of like ‘94. (I wonder if Las Vegas will put out odds on another government shutdown.)

Sounds like a recipe for name-calling and gridlock. Kind of like this blog.

Partisanship is an IQ test, if you think the dems, GOP or libertarians give a fig about anything than political power, you failed.

At least we have college football to look forward to.

The Snark

August 31st, 2010
2:31 pm

Anyone who talks about other elected officials as being “the enemy” has no place in a democracy.

CJ

August 31st, 2010
2:31 pm

For all the talk about the tea party’s ideology, I think its members’ opposition to The System, the good-ol-boying, the looking after No. 1 first and last and in between, is an equally defining characteristic of the movement.

Comity? Good. Good-ol-boying? Bad. We can have one without the other.

One the issue of comity, Angle wants to exercise her Second Amendment rights if she doesn’t like how a fairly elected Congress legislates (in other words, she’s a traitor), Paul wants to eliminate portions of the Civil Rights act that requires business to serve African-Americans, and Buck doesn’t believe that we should vote someone who wears high-heel shoes (I think he was specifically referring to women). The vote counting in Alaska is getting ugly, with the Miller crowd claiming that votes aren’t being counted fairly. And Tea Party candidates and pundits everywhere are crying out for investigations and subpoenas in 2011 (no reason necessary) plus, we evidently have a government shutdown to look forward to if they win. Whatever the appeal of these Tea Party/Republican candidates, civility and respect are not among them.

On the issue of good-ol-boying, these people are corporate hacks seeking to shift the more and more of the tax burden away from the wealthy onto low and middle class workers while decimating consumer, workplace, and environmental protections that benefit their corporate benefactors. That is good-ol-boying defined.

songbird

August 31st, 2010
2:43 pm

The only way to ever really change congress and senate is not to re-elect anyone. You would have to have an entire new bunch of people; otherwise, the newbies just get sucked into the system.

Question Authority

August 31st, 2010
2:43 pm

Anyone who does not hold a strong sentiment of distrust for any and every action of government has no business calling themselves an american. Anyone who believes that rights, freedom, and the like eminate from government rather than items that government is duty bound to protect, has no business calling themselves an american.

rdh

August 31st, 2010
2:57 pm

As a conservative, Kyle, I’d have to say that the Republicans still don’t quite get it. Government, both Democrats and Republicans, is in love with itself. If you don’t see a difference in the two parties, you are stupid. Republicans would never have enacted Obamacare, or financial regulation. They won’t put a leash on Barney/Fannie/Freddie. They wont cut Medicare/SS, but they won’t help people against their insurance companies, either. They want 2008 status quo… only bigger and bigger and bigger.

Let me be clear: this is still better than driving our future off the cliff the way Nancy/Harry/Barry have done. The Republicans don’t have answers, but they aren’t making problems worse. The Democrats have made problems worse… much much worse.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 31st, 2010
3:13 pm

In my opinion, both parties need to boot their leadership and start over. I’d expect to see a hog fly by the window first, though.

Peter

August 31st, 2010
3:16 pm

Neither party works for America anymore period……. Both parties have it’s all about me attitude.

They won’t work together, and act entitled. Every Bill has added baloney that cost tax payers pork money.

Time to change to entire political landscape, including term limits on the Congress and senators period.

I am ashamed of the way BOTH parties act.

JF McNamara

August 31st, 2010
3:16 pm

RDH,

I agree with most of what you said, the only issue is that we don’t know if Nancy/Barry/Harry have actually made things worse. All the objective data says the stimulus helped even if it didn’t make its stated unemployment goal. Financial regulation at least attempts to solve the problems that caused the crash whereas Republicans just wanted to leave status quo even though we had a disaster before. The only other real change has been healthcare, and we have no idea whether that will make things better or worse. Screaming radio heads say its much worse, but most of them don’t even have college diplomas. They are experts on commercial selling.

From where I stand, it seems like to make an assessment of the leadership based on what we know now, we are better off. In the future, no one really knows the impacts of the decisions (no matter how loudly or angrily they say they do).

CJ

August 31st, 2010
3:29 pm

The Republicans don’t have answers, but they aren’t making problems worse. The Democrats have made problems worse… much much worse.

This might be true in a the parallel universe that rdh is living in, but when Bush left office we were losing nearly 700,000 jobs per month, unemployment projections were in the double digits (some approaching 20 percent), and deficit projects were in the trillions. In addition, under Republican rule corporate subsidies increased dramatically (e.g., agricultural subsides), the number of earmarks doubled, a new entitlement was added (Medicare Part D), a misbegotten war was started—none of which was paid for. In addition, innocent American citizens were spied on, the unitary executive theory was executed whereby the President signed laws and then asserted that he wasn’t obligated to enforce or abide by them, cronyism skyrocketed, corruption skyrocketed, and deficits took off.

Republicans don’t make problems worse? That’s a good one.

Kyle Wingfield

August 31st, 2010
3:41 pm

And yet, CJ…well, just look at what I’ve just posted upstairs.

http://bit.ly/aIOF9E

ODDOWL

August 31st, 2010
4:19 pm

The Koch (coke) Brothers control the extreme right wing, racist Neo-Con, Republican Tea Party. Old Man Koch was attacking FDR and calling him a Commie, pinko socialist back in the 30’s. The spawn of old man Koch created the John Birch society in opposition to what they called the Kennedy Brothers “Socialist Liberalism” in the 60’s. Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, Bush-1, Gingrich, Bush/Cheney were financed and controlled by the Koch Brother Industries. Today, small Dick Armery’s Freedom Works and the Tea party are financed and controlled by them. Why do the Koch Brothers mis-pronounce their last name ??? Ed Koch the former Jewish Mayor of NYC don’t pronounce his name Coke. Rugged individualism is the ultimate divide and conquer tactic in a corporate controlled Democracy. The richest 5% of the population own and control 92% of all the wealth in America.

retiredds

August 31st, 2010
4:21 pm

rdh, I hate to remind you that the last Republican administration and the Democratic AND Republican Congress ran the country off the cliff. If you have forgotten the recession/depression officially began in December of 2007 and who can forget the good old days from September 2008 through March of 2009 when the stock market was tanking and the US economy was CONTRACTING at a 6% annualized rate. If you have forgotten God bless you and your selective amnesia.

Left wing management

August 31st, 2010
4:47 pm

“For all the talk about the tea party’s ideology, I think its members’ opposition to The System, the good-ol-boying, the looking after No. 1 first and last and in between, is an equally defining characteristic of the movement.”

Show me one shred of evidence to suggest that the so-called Tea Party is anything other than a force that is interested in “looking after number 1″, Kyle.

As far as I can see, the Tea Party is just another set of interests – or the same interests in repackaged form – muscling its way into a decadent party establishment and is ultimately interested in one thing and one thing only: preservation of the status quo. Economic, that is.

I see nothing to suggest anything otherwise.

Arrogant B@st@rd

August 31st, 2010
4:51 pm

“Anyone who does not hold a strong sentiment of distrust for any and every action of government has no business calling themselves an american.”

what a major league f up. Go find another country to foul, loser.

Kyle Wingfield

August 31st, 2010
4:57 pm

Left wing management: Do you agree that tea party folks in Alaska backed Miller over Murkowski?

Left wing management

August 31st, 2010
5:14 pm

Kyle: “Do you agree that tea party folks in Alaska backed Miller over Murkowski?”

Well yes, of course. I’m not disputing that the Tea Partiers are having a real effect in actual races. The question though is what is this really going to bring that’s any different? And I think we know the answer to that. As Paul Krugman has observed, we’re likely to see a repeat of the fireworks of the Newt Gingrich “Contract with America” era, with government shutdowns, etc. And what this will do is once again force upon the public the reality of the fact that there is not a real public appetite for a cut in entitlements or for a radical change in the way government does business.

Look, any party that seriously wants to slash government is going to have to slash entitlements (as Gingrich and his crew knew). And anyone who tries to do that is going to get vaporized eventually once the policy implications are clear. In other words, considering the current state of affairs in the country, with anxiety everywhere you turn, I think we’re headed for Contract with America on steroids.

retiredds

August 31st, 2010
5:18 pm

Left wing management: You’re not far off base. Me thinks the Koch brothers have an interest in the Tea Party movement as it just happens to coincide with their ideology for America, we (the Koch brothers that is) rule and we have the $$$$$$$$$ to back it up. And aren’t Beck and Palin on Murdock’s payroll? It is wise to follow the $$$$$ before saying a movement is completely free of influence.

Kyle Wingfield

August 31st, 2010
5:19 pm

My only point in asking, LWM, was to establish that the tea party people had turned against one of the Senate’s biggest earmarkers — which is not what you’d expect from people looking out for No. 1.

That said, I agree with you that entitlement reform is key to fixing the budget.

Left wing management

August 31st, 2010
5:23 pm

Kyle: So to get back to my assertion that the Tea Party represents nothing new ultimately, I think there’s no small amount of cynical calculation on the part of its backers. And as we’re learning, their backers are formidable, with big bucks to throw behind this thing. As far as I can see, what these backers want it to take the fledgling movement under its wing, co-opt it, and make sure it shakes things up just enough to maintain the illusion of some kind of change, all in order to make certain that there’s no actual change. (Hell, maybe the same thing could be said about the Obama election on the Left side.) I think the main danger that had to be averted – and it seems to have been averted for now – is that the Tea Party would split the Republican in two, leading to a Perot-style fiasco for them.