WASHINGTON, July 30, 2013 ― Today in the House of Representatives we have the Hastert Rule Hypocrisy Caucus.
One of the signature debates roiling through Congress this year has been the so-called “Hastert Rule.” Many rank-and-file House Republicans have lambasted House Speaker John Boehner for bringing bills to vote which a majority of Republican representatives do not support.
Boehner should be “removed as speaker,” California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher bellicosely bellowed. Such action “would be cause for removal in my judgment,” piped in Golden State Rep. Tom McClintock. Is something in the water out there? Other GOP representatives like Justin Amash saber-raddled at the time, too.
The take away from this chest-thumping, said Rep. Raul Labrador was, “(to) our leadership … stop negotiating with Democrats.” Left unanswered by Labrador: With whom should Republicans negotiate? With themselves? Or, perhaps, with an empty chair, like Clint Eastwood?
What began as bluster and bled into bluff was revealed last week to be total bologna.
Each of these representatives voted for Amash’s amendment to the defense authorization bill last week, which would ban the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data-mining program. The number of Republicans who voted for this amendment was ― drumroll please ― 94 out of 234.
That’s 40 percent.
Ergo, it violated the Hastert Rule.
Exactly these Hastert Rule Hypocrites called for Boehner’s head when he passed the much-pilloried “fiscal cliff deal” this New Year’s without their votes. Yet their pet NSA bill earned only nine more Republicans than that fiscal cliff deal.
And their NSA bill won only seven more GOP votes than the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization this February, which the Hastert Rule Hypocrites also whined was taken up without first getting their blessing or kissing their ring.
Nevermind that the Hastert rule isn’t even a rule. The man who invented it explains “I never used the phrase ‘Hastert Rule,’” adding, “I don’t know where it came from. This was always meant to be situational advice, never a hard-and-fast rule.”
More striking for a set fond of bragging about their “principles” and “purity” and deriding so-called RINOs ― Republicans in Name Only — this NSA bill, which most Republicans opposed, put the Hastert Rule Hypocrites in bed with the likes of Charlie Rangel, Barbara Lee, and Alan Grayson.
The latter of these three is so far to the Left, he was once called out for his “Most Outrageous Quotes” by Mother Jones magazine, an outfit so left-wing they’re literally named after a socialist. Even Anthony Weiner once said of Grayson: “Is this news to you that this guy’s one fry short of a Happy Meal?” That’s right, Anthony Weiner. Enough said.
That’s not principled; that’s naked opportunism.
Worst, these moves are not about defending the Constitution. Amash, Stockman, Yoho, et al, voted against Boehner for speaker, and “vote against the leadership team nearly every day on the House floor,” POLITICO has observed. Their agenda isn’t conservative policy solutions, but being against whatever John Boehner is for. They exist to be contrarian not against progressivism, as such, but against anything that gets between them and a camera or a book deal.
Even during this NSA saga, “Amash was out there acting like he was fighting against the leadership,” one Republican noted, when in fact, leadership worked with Amash to bring the amendment to a vote.
This was theatre of the absurdist variety, only with bad acting.
The charade was further abetted by the Vote-No-Hope-Yes Caucus of Republicans. Afraid that the non-solution-oriented Republicans’ megaphones are too large and their mailing lists too vast, they, too, did the expedient. It’s harder to respect those who, in prostituting their principles, can’t even negotiate tasteful recompense for the indignity.
In turning over the party to politicians more interesting in winning Twitter followers than winning votes, too many Republicans miss the lesson of President Ford. “Our parties are instruments of government much more than they are vehicles of protest,” he reminded us shortly before he died. In “definin(ing) our differences” and “mediat(ing) them” parties serve as what Ford called “ideological shock absorber(s) … cushioning the impact of change and forging a consensus acceptable to the vast majority of Americans who travel in the middle of the road.”
Hypocrisy on the Hastert Rule emanates from a mind which sees as its raison d’être the advancement of sophistry, rather than solutions.
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