Sunday, January 13, 2013

Speaker of the House: Not Saying Much

The Speaker of the House used to be one of the most coveted positions in politics.

While the House Rep who took the job more often than not never ascended any higher in national politics, his or her prominance in the House Chamber at least granted that legislator nationwide respect or reproach.

Nancy Peloso took the top spot in 2007, the first woman to do so. She then lost the position four years leaders, and along with it the gains from the two previous cycles.

Pelosi became the light, the lightning rod, and then the blight of the Democratic Party. She confided with reporters that her caucus had to pass Obamacare so that everyone could see what was in the bill. She supported the 2007 Iraqi troop surge and minimum wage increase under President George W. Bush, but helped shepherd through Congress Dodd-Frank and Cap-and-Trade, the second of which dying in the Senate under likeminded Democratic control.

John Boehner took back the House gavel in 2011 and 2013, although he faced a fractious caucus the second time around. To his credit and to his consternation, Boehner no longer has the same gimmicks which kept unyielding members in line in the past. The Tea Party caucus returned the Republicans to power, and they have not been shy about flexing their political muscle. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy openly differed with their leader. They have traced out their own disagreements with the Speaker, fearing no revenge on the part of leadership nor reprisal from voters in their home districts.

The Speakership no longer has much to say to most budding and rising politicians in the House. More content to stake our their values to a national electorate tuned in through YouTube and Twitter, individual members take on the talking heads of the Sunday Morning talk shows, tell their sides of the story, tell it like it is, and fear nothing for their truth-telling.

Boehner won reelection to the Speakership, but he really did not win much. The voters have made known their will through their representatives, and the will of the leadership, no matter how weepy or willing, cannot change that.

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