By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
I haven't been able to attend the CPAC convention in person this week--too much going on with kids and work--but I've been following it on TV and the blogosphere. Some of the speakers are very angry, which is mystifying to me since things seem to be going well lately for conservatives from New Jersey to Virginia to Massachusetts. But there have also been a few unexpected surprises.
One of those is John Boehner's speech. I've never been that big a fan of his, but I think he's really growing into his job. He's much better now than he was even a year ago. I listened to him on the radio yesterday giving his speech, and here's the link to it on CSPAN if you'd like to watch it; he starts at 2:55.30 and the best part is at the end at 3:14.50. Here are the highlights:
"I think all of you know there is a political rebellion brewing in America ... The Republican party should not aim to co-opt the tea parties. I think that is the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do, as long as I am leader, is respect them, listen to them and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that."
"If I'm fortunate enough to be the speaker of the House, I will pledge to you right here, right now that we are going to run the House differently ... And I don't mean differently from the way Democrats are running it today. I'm mean differently from the way Republicans and Democrats have been running it."
"My pledge to you is this: If you will help me elect a Republican majority this November, we will be open, we will be transparent and we will listen. We will stand on principle and we will do the right thing for our country. We will work hard 24/7 to clean up the messes that have been left there for our children and grandchildren."
He talked about specifics as well, especially when it came to reforming the House to make it more transparent and accountable: according to Politico, he would require that bills be posted online for 72 hours before members are allowed to vote on them, put up cameras in the Rules Committee, ban the "airdropping" of earmarks (inserting pork barrel projects into the conference report between the two chambers, even though they did not appear in the original House or Senate legislation) and not allow members to request funds for projects named after themselves.
He's also heading up the Republican push to have an open debate with the Democrats in the House about the jobs bill, which I think is a good idea. He was introduced as the next Speaker of the House half-jokingly to the crowd, but maybe he really will be. He'd be a heck of a lot better than Nancy Pelosi, not only for Republicans but for the president as well. If you look at how much got done under George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and even Dwight Eisenhower when their own party did not control Congress, you'd think the President would be out making campaign appearances for Republicans running for the House. There's a lot of energy on the right these days, and in the long run, that's great for both parties.