Sometimes if you shift your mental paradigm, everything clicks into place. My previous paradigm for the House Freedom Caucus was “principled anti-Establishment Tea Party conservatives.” But now they’ve now boosted Rep. Paul Ryan’s Speaker bid in a slippery, improvised procedure that circumvented their own rules on endorsements (which require an 80% majority). They did this even though Ryan is the Establishment’s Dream Speaker and probably the GOP’s most relentless plotter for amnesty and mass immigration (as revealed in a just-released PBS Frontline documentary).
So I’m trying out a new paradigm. The new paradigm is ‘the House Freedom Caucus is idiots.’ And now everything’s all falling into place. Like these data points:
— After making serious anti-Ryan noises and boasting about how they’d bounced John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy, they were pushovers once Ryan met with them and apparently made some not-in writing promises — actually more like “signals that he was willing to do things differently.” Signals! Well all right then!
— Ryan seems worse, from a principled Tea Party point of view, than either Boehner or McCarthy. He’s much worse on amnesty, and he’ll be harder for a caucus of 40 to push around on other issues. Brilliant work.
— They (or, rather, less than 80% of them) threw their previous Speaker candidate, the competent and respectable Daniel Webster, ignominiously aside, even though Webster had met the 80% requirement. [Bus metaphor here?-ed Over dead body]
— The point of the caucus was supposedly that they enhanced their power by acting like a bloc. (“if we didn’t stand together, I don’t think we’d be here today talking about who might be the next speaker of the House,” said Rep. Justin Amash, a member.) The 80% bar was set so high because all the caucusers were to be bound by an endorsement. By abandoning unity when it counted, they become just another group in which maybe 25 members feel one way and 15 members feel the other way. In what sense are they still the mighty conservative bloc they advertised themselves to be, as opposed to a coffee klatch that provides an open mic for Raul Labrador’s pirouetting pronouncements?
— They are obsessed with petty procedural changes in the House while they ignore the major substantive issues — Ryan’s immigration crusade, but also his troubling welfare plans — that could permanently change America for the worse.
— Many of these procedural changes –e.g. “giving individual members a chance to offer amendments and to have their ideas voted on on the House floor”— seem designed more to allow Freedom Caucus members to preen and show their constituents what fighters they are rather than to get things done.
Hmm. No discordant data points! I think I’ll stick with this new paradigm unless something happens to call it into question. …
Update: Freedom Caucusers are now getting some phone-melting blowback from constitutents. If they are as weak as they seem to be they may be forced to show some spine. …
Update 10/23: Politico reports that the Club for Growth and Koch Industries — both pro-amnesty — are the biggest donors to Freedom Caucus members. Explains a lot. …