Two cheers for 'chaos' in House leadership struggle

Yesterday my colleague Rick Moran opined that “It’s Ryan for Speaker or chaos,” and he implied that “chaos” is a bad thing. I am not so sure. The order that has prevailed in the House of Representatives has enabled the moneyed interests to get their way, and to frustrate the voters that elected a historic GOP majority on the promise of immigration enforcement, stopping Obamacare, and halting the “fundamental change” underway in the last 7 years.

We have been endlessly lectured that control of the House or even the House and the Senate (since 2014) isn’t enough to do very much. I am sorry: I am old enough to remember when Tip O’Neill declared Ronald Reagan’s budgets “dead on arrival” and keep The Gipper from achieving his goals.  Nobody told Tip and the Dems that control of one branch of Congress didn’t really give them any clout.

The people who comp[lain about “chaos” seem to imply that a return to the way the House operated under Boehner, with deals reached in private, was a good thing. Kevin Williamson presents the other side of the story:

The Republicans have decided to have a little bit of authentic democracy within their party, and polite Washington is flipping out. (snip)

But the House isn’t in chaos. It has a complete leadership structure in place, with Boehner staying on as long as needed. There probably will be another fight with the White House and congressional Democrats about various spending authorizations. (snip)

What really has the salon set shaking its head is that the Republican party, which has within it a steep disagreement about tactics, priorities, pace, and style, has decided to settle some of those questions through an authentic democratic process. There is, apparently, going to be a real race for the speaker’s gavel, rather than a negotiated settlement among party leaders organized around the question of whose turn it is. A real democratic fight instead of a backroom party-machine process — that is what CNN calls a House in chaos. (snip)

The House is about to find out whether the more energetic conservatives long dissatisfied with the leadership of John Boehner can effectively put forward one of their own for the top House job — and, if they do, Congress and the country are about to find out what that means. As a way of settling a genuine political dispute, this could hardly be improved upon. Washington retreats to its fainting couch. A passionate fight over ideas, over how we govern and to what ends? Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

Worrywarts presume that the spectacle of open debate will turn off the American people. “If the GOP House can’t run itself, How can it run America?” is a comment heard from all sorts of lefty media types, and some conservatives, too. But does American really want to be “run” by a political party cutting backroom deals and presenting fait accompli decisions to us about how we should live our lives?

Maybe the American people are a little more grown up than that.

Paul Ryan’s a nice man and does a good job as chair of the Ways and Means Committee. If he wants to raise his kids in Wisconsin every weekend, I sat let the poor man stay in the job he loves. Maybe a long process choosing the next leader is a good thing, not a bad thing. There’s a lot of talent out there in the GOP bench, and not all of it is in the insiders’ club