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‘Why Won’t House Conservatives STAND AND FIGHT?’ He Asked Ironically

A conservative on the Hill reached out to me about my question about why we're not seeing any unified effort to push for a conservative alternative to Kevin McCarthy . . .
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September 30, 2015
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty
'Why Won't House Conservatives STAND AND FIGHT?' He Asked Ironically

A conservative on the Hill reached out to me about my question about why we're not seeing any unified effort to push for a conservative alternative to Kevin McCarthy -- unless you count Daniel Webster. (Webster scores a 76 percent from Heritage Action, a 63 from Conservative Review and a 78.83 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Kevin McCarthy gets a 53 percent lifetime score from Heritage Action, 45 from Conservative Review, and an 88.63 lifetime from the ACU)

One argument is that whoever follows Boehner is going to be a transitional speaker. Based on how things stand for the next 16 months or so, the next GOP speaker is probably going to have to preside over some unpopular compromises. The thinking is that by January 2017, it's going to be a different ballgame -- a new president, either a Republican or a new Democrat who's going to be eager to get something accomplished.

The very vague, back-of-the-envelope math is that McCarthy has the largest bloc of support in the caucus, but not enough to become speaker, and the conservative bloc -- which more or less aligns with the membership of the House Freedom Caucus -- could block a nominee they didn't like but can't elect one of their own.

One possibility is the theory is that the conservative bloc will lift their opposition to McCarthy in exchange for a conservative majority leader and whip and some rule changes.

That may very well be the best way for the conservatives to maximize their leverage. But that approach doesn't really sound in line with their "stand and fight!" rallying cry, now does it? While I think the statement that "the next GOP speaker is probably going to have to preside over some unpopular compromises" is absolutely true, I'm left wondering why it's better to have Kevin McCarthy making those unpopular compromises than it would have been to have Boehner make them. And if you're mad as heck at Mitch McConnell for the "Obama's just gonna veto the bill, so what's the use of nuking the filibuster?" philosophy, why would you be any more enamored with an "our guy's not gonna beat McCarthy, so why nominate an alternative" approach?

Gee, is it possible that some of the compromises made in the past nine months represent structural limits to what a non-veto-proof House and Senate majority can achieve, and not some deep personal flaw or collaborationist agenda on the part of John Boehner?

Meanwhile, Erick Erickson wants Boehner tossed by the members through a motion to vacate the chair immediately, instead of waiting until the end of October. Erickson and the RedState gang haven't endorsed any alternative to McCarthy yet, and he told me last night he doesn't know if he or the site will endorse an alternative candidate for speaker without the vote.

I feel like I'm missing something. Why would we try to speed up the departure of Boehner if we don't think McCarthy is any better? What's the point of deposing a Speaker if you don't have an alternative you like better?


He just said he doesn't want the job.


He doesn't want that job, either. He periodically reminds people that he already has a big job that's unfinished on the Benghazi committee.

If conservatives really want to change the leadership in Congress, they need to--


No, wait, I just said he--


Now you're just yelling his name for no reason.


We're Dizzy for Gillespie in Virginia

As a Virginia resident, I'm quite pleased with this news . . .

Former Republican National Committee Chairman and White House aide Ed Gillespie plans to run for governor of Virginia in 2017.

Aides close to Gillespie say that he will formally launch a campaign for governor "at the appropriate time."

Gillespie was considered a front runner for the 2017 GOP gubernatorial nomination after narrowly losing a race for U.S. Senate to Democratic senator Mark Warner in 2014. Gillespie said many times that he would not run for governor if State Sen. Mark Obenshain, also a Republican, decided to run.

Obenshain narrowly lost a race for attorney general in 2013 to current Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and was considered a front-runner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

On Monday Obenshain told The Washington Post that he does not plan to run for governor and at this point is "content to focus on my service in the Senate."

I just wish that two days after the election, after I had written that the near-victory sets Gillespie up well for a gubernatorial run in 2017, he hadn't declared, "There are a lot of people thinking about running for governor in 2017. And I'm not one of them."

There's Jumping the Shark, and There's Just Making Your Characters Bad People

I'll grant the new show-runners and creative team of ABC's Castle have a tough job. After seven seasons and 152 episodes, it's probably just about impossible to keep things fresh. The show probably exhausted every "mysterious murder in exotic Manhattan location" story imaginable.

It's bad enough that this year, Castle returned to the "conspiracy of powerful men that killed Kate Beckett's mother" storyline that they have beaten into the ground over the previous seasons. At this point, Oliver Stone would call this conspiracy too vast and powerful and far-reaching to be plausible. The world of Castle always had its fanciful and almost-science-fiction moments, but now we're watching a world where a far-reaching conspiracy deploys teams of heavily-armed mercenaries onto the streets of New York City and nobody seems to notice, and high-level Department of Justice employees die in "mysterious accidents" and everyone shrugs. (Does anyone remember Vince Foster?)

"It's just a television show!" Well, we all have our internal thresholds of plausibility. For starters, I'm rather skeptical of Castle's depiction of a middle-aged white male WASP U.S. senator from New York state. (I recall one person arguing that on the old show Stargate: SG-1, the concept of an alien-built portal that led to other planets was completely believable, but he just couldn't accept the show's contention that the U.S. Air Force would have managed to keep the program to itself and not had to share with the other branches of the Armed Services.) What's been particularly annoying about Castle is that protagonist Rick Castle and Beckett will learn about this powerful, far-reaching conspiracy . . . and then the following week go back to solving the mystery-of-the-week without any sign the revelation influenced their thinking or behavior at all. They must be taking notes from Mulder and Scully.

Anyway, this week's episode ends with Beckett learning that one powerful member of the conspiracy is still out there -- somehow connected (sigh) to the highest levels of the CIA -- and being warned by another shadowy figure that continuing the pursuit of the conspiracy will put her loved ones at risk.

In response, Beckett leaves her husband.

What? What?! Why, because she's worried about him getting killed? In the past seven seasons he's been beaten up, shot, kidnapped, held hostage, trapped in elevators and freezers and tied to bombs and just about every other imaginable peril! Just last week he was tortured with spiders! But now this vague threat is enough to get her to de facto end their marriage? (At the end of the episode, it's unclear whether she intends to separate or divorce.)

Given a choice between one more effort at revenge for her mother's murder, or the man who she made a vow to spend the rest of her life with during the wedding ceremony, she chooses revenge! She knows this will break his heart and she does it anyway. She doesn't even talk about it with him. She doesn't even say, "I really need to pursue this lead, and I'm afraid if I do, I'll put you in danger." The preceding two episodes dealt with her suddenly disappearing with no explanation (because of a threat from the conspiracy, of course).

The promotion for next week's episode features Castle determined to "win her back." Why? She's a horrible person! What's more, a major theme of at least the past three or four seasons was the characters' love for each other, how they were determined to make their unlikely pairing work and so on. And now we see this character will leave her husband over a chance to follow one more conspiracy thread. It's either completely out of character with everything we've seen before in an effort for contrived drama and tension, or a revelation that Beckett never actually cared about Castle. At that point, you might as well make her a serial killer.

Why would the audience root for these characters to get back together? Why would the audience keep watching?

ADDENDA: Over on the home page, a look at the unlikely political alliance between Donald Trump and Sarah Palin

The Pope’s Vital Visit to America
Hillarycare Would Be Even Worse than Obamacare
How Ben Carson Is Winning the Facebook Primary
GOP Meeting Resolves Nothing As Leadership Fights Brew
To Replace Boehner, Why Not Newt for Speaker?
The Improbable Trump/Palin Alliance
The Deleted Emails of Hillary Clinton
By John Moe
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