A little noticed press story that highlighted the internecine fight between two Idaho congressmen tells a big part of the story of today's Republican Party. The headline in the Idaho Statesman, "Mike Simpson rips Raul Labrador for trying to oust Boehner as Speaker" only begins to tell the tale of life inside the House Republican Caucus.
Two solid conservatives find themselves in a very public feud: One represents the radical Tea Party faction that dominates the caucus, the other represents the precious few who are responsible and experienced legislators. Rep. Mike Simpson calls Rep. Raul Labrador "irresponsible" and questions his "credibility" while Labrador referred to Simpson as a "bully" and "an old-school legislator that went to Washington, D.C. to compromise."
There you have it. One sees his role as an elected legislator to govern the nation; the other is the bomb thrower, who believes compromise is a four-letter word. The two Idaho senators and Mike Simpson supported the deal to avert the fiscal cliff in December. Labrador was a loud opponent. Sadly, only 85 Republican House members supported the compromise, and that was probably a lot for that caucus.
Just this week, Democrats and a handful of Republicans voted to provide the funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy—38 House Republicans in one vote and 49 in another. For those who are skilled in math, that is in the neighborhood of 20 percent of the Republican Caucus. The sad truth is that with the new crop of 2012 Republican additions there are a heck of a lot of Raul Labradors running around Capital Hill. A lot more than there are Mike Simpsons.
Legislation that exhibits compromise can be passed on the rolling fiscal cliffs, immigration, energy, etc. but only if they are allowed to reach the House floor and there is a bipartisan collection of Democrats and Republicans. There are simply too many Labradors and too few Simpsons in the Republican caucus to find a majority of Republicans who would ever support a compromise, let alone an initiative coming from the President.
How long can Speaker John Boehner survive with such a caucus? That is the $64,000 question. Raul Labrador is licking his chops to stage a coup and heaven forbid that the speaker would compromise with the Democrats.
The Labrador-Simpson feud is the Republican Caucus dysfunction to a "T."