There’s more than enough blame to go around from both the White House and Congress for Republicans’ dysfunction, but one thing that should be beyond dispute for anyone who wants to do something about it is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are simply unfit for leadership. Now, there are rumblings that some GOP House members are frustrated enough to try to remove the latter.
The Washington Post reports that a group of over thirty “influential House conservatives” are privately discussing how to oust Ryan from the Speakership…and they have some very surprising names in mind to take his place:
The group has gone so far as to float the idea of recruiting former House speaker Newt Gingrich or former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum as potential replacements for Ryan (R-Wis.) should there be a rebellion. The Constitution does not require that an elected member of the House serve as speaker.
While the chances that a non-House member could mount a credible threat to Ryan are exceedingly slim, the fact that the group has even toyed with the idea underscores their desire to create trouble for GOP leaders if they believe their demands are not being addressed.
The closed-door conversations are being led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, in consultation with his allies on the right, in particular Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist who recently returned to his perch as executive chairman of the Breitbart News website. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Freedom Caucus members are also involved in the talks to varying degrees, according to nearly a dozen people with knowledge of the discussions.
On Wednesday, Meadows, Jordan and Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) took their concerns directly to Ryan, telling him in a private meeting in the Capitol that his failure to enact conservative priorities could diminish his support among conservatives.
The WaPo report quotes Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) as not yet in the “Ryan Must Go” camp, but stressing that it’s the responsibility of Ryan and other leaders to get their act together: “we’ve failed on Obamacare, we didn’t do what we said we’d do. What’s it going to look like on tax? What about the debt ceiling? No one is really sure.”
Now, it’s safe to say that Gingrich and Santorum are not exactly the most serious proposals for Speaker candidates. The former, who already was Speaker in the 1990s, called it “a joke to have anyone not serving in the House or who’s familiar with the members to lead the body,” while the latter simply told WaPo, “I don’t really know anything about it.”
In addition, while both men have definite strengths and insights that have won them fans on the Right, they also have notorious heresies from conservatism, showing that neither is the political savior we need.
However, the talk of ousting Ryan needs to continue, needs to grow, and needs to translate to action. He has always been a lousy conservative and an even worse leader. And the Meadows crew may be on to something in looking outside the House for a Speaker — someone who feels no need or desire to maintain friendships with the scores of awful human beings walking the halls of Capitol Hill every day.