House Republicans can call all the shots in two years if they don’t blow it now
If it’s said that elections are always about the future, then the Republican Party had better start planning now to win back the House of Representatives in two years, thus guaranteeing that America’s future will be safe from the likes of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ de facto party head, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (and “The Squad”).
With the Trump campaign’s lawsuits and recounts still ongoing in several states, it’s hard to focus on anything beyond the present. Democrats were gleeful this week when Attorney General William Barr announced he hadn’t yet seen sufficient evidence of fraud to overturn the current status of Joe Biden as (supposed) president-elect, but the top federal law enforcement official also indicated the DOJ hadn’t conducted a comprehensive investigation. We’ll have to wait and see how this turns out.
It's not a difficult concept, but Barr’s pronouncement prompted the president’s enemies to make another call for him to bow out and just let Democrat Joe Biden take over the White House. Biden, of course, is nursing an ankle injury sustained in what must’ve been a vigorous play session with one of his dogs. The Democrat standard-bearer -- perhaps to demonstrate how “fit” he was -- preferred to jog into his public appearances in the latter part of his campaign, but now it appears he’ll be staying off his feet and popping pain killers for the foreseeable future.
At any rate, with Republicans having picked up at least a dozen seats in this year’s election (nice coattails, Grampa Joe!), many an eye is on a different prize for the next federal election. Republican consultant John Feehery wrote at The Hill, “Joe Biden is entering the White House with the weakest mandate in history. His campaign made no great promises, had no great themes, and cleverly kept the candidate hidden in his basement, away from any pesky reporter who might dare to ask a difficult question.
“Winning presidential campaigns usually come with some coattails in the first term, but the Democrats almost lost the House this time around, an unprecedented result.
“For House Republicans, this poses a difficult strategic choice: Do they obstruct everything that the weakened House majority throws at them and risk being called ‘do-nothing Republicans’ or do they find ways to cooperate on issues that could benefit them and their new members, many of whom will be facing their own tough reelection campaigns?”
It's a legitimate question, but the answer is easy: obstruct, obstruct, obstruct! Put maximum pressure on the Democrat leadership to make huge concessions, and then pin their refusal to do so on them and their members. It’s the opening salvo of campaign ’22. You can’t be a “do-nothing” anything unless you have the gavel in your hand. If you don’t believe it, ask Paul Ryan!
Feehery should know all about it, having worked for a who’s who of the Republican establishment for decades (in his bio blurb he indicated he’d served under former Speaker Dennis Hastert as well as former Rep. Tom DeLay when he was majority whip and for former House Minority Leader Bob Michel). Feehery said, based on his observations, that some House members actually enjoy being in the minority because it allows them to pop off on any subject they choose and not have to worry about doing the difficult work of actually passing anything. I wonder if he was referring to Bob Michel specifically, who was notorious for accepting the GOP’s semi-permanent minority status before the Gingrich revolution in 1994…?
At any rate, Feehery made some good points. Joe Biden will indeed enter the White House (again, assuming the shadows of the present remain unaltered by the near future, Grampa Joe will start residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20) as the weakest first-term president in memory. Democrats will blame the Chinese Communist Party (or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus for their man’s near total self-sequester for the past nine months, but Biden’s hidden-from-view status was more intentional than forced by necessity.
All presidents outline a governing agenda in their inaugural address and work diligently towards compiling a record of accomplishments in their first hundred days. With the incoming Democrat hamstrung by a slim House majority and a likely (Please! Please!) GOP senate majority, there’s very little that could be pushed through Congress quickly. Even if liberals succeeded in winning both Georgia runoff seats, there isn’t much chance that anything “big” could be done unless “Chucky” Schumer proves astute at herding his self-interested band of socialism-wannabes. Democrats would still need unanimity in agreeing to ditch the filibuster and then stay together in ramming through Supreme Court packing or other major, attention-grabbing measures.
In other words, House Republicans won’t need to go out of their way to work with the so-called “moderate” Democrats to get anything done. Because Nancy Pelosi (another assumption, that she’d be reelected as Speaker) will have to reassure the insurgent leftwing in her caucus that she’s on their side, there’s very little chance she can do anything on a straight party-line vote. And San Fran Nan isn’t about to bring a bill to the floor that wouldn’t automatically earn nearly 100 percent approval from Democrats. She’s no John Boehner, that’s for sure.
Democrats from swing or Republican districts will be even more watchful in the next two years, figuring they’ve got an uphill battle for reelection as it is in a Democrat president’s first couple annual go-rounds. Both Big Bubba Bill Clinton and Barack Obama experienced major voter backlashes in their initial midterm election, and Biden doesn’t stand much chance of altering the pattern. It’ll be easy for Republicans to link their opponents to the impending disaster that is Biden-Harris. GOPers won’t even need a high-priced swamp consultant to do the thinking for them!
Likewise, Republicans won’t be in position to make demands on the Democrats, at least concerning anything worthwhile enough to use as a potential 2022 campaign issue. Pelosi (or her successor) will still set the House agenda and it’s doubtful she’ll be in the mood to move legislation that secures the border, cuts tax rates or cements any aspect of the conservative social agenda. It ain’t happening. So why settle for half a loaf -- or more likely a couple crumbs from a moldy slice -- when you and the nation are so much better off from simply saying no?
With redistricting taking place next year and Republicans having expanded their dominance at the state legislature level, the party already figured to gain as many as a half dozen House seats in 2022. Therefore, the GOP will have taken over the House even without lifting a proverbial finger. The rest is up to conservatives to keep the rank and file in line -- and to not do anything stupid, like agreeing to a mass amnesty for illegal aliens or to big tax hikes in return for “promises” of moving Republican priorities.
Joe Biden will wear the ink out of his executive pen, but he can’t get anything done on Capitol Hill without Republicans giving their say-so. The future looks bright if GOP leaders can squelch the most damaging stuff, agree to the few things the parties might share in common and dump cold water on the rest. If Mitch McConnell remains majority leader in the senate, he can also gum up the process for Biden’s swamp creature-infested administration nominees.
Behind closed doors in the Speaker’s Office, the power struggle continues
Since we have no way of knowing what’s really going on behind the scenes of Democrat-land, one can only speculate what the deliberations actually sound like. We do know that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tried putting a very positive spin on the outcome of the 2020 elections. But she can’t be happy knowing her dreams of a Donald Trump legacy-smashing Democrat wave failed to materialize, (maybe) leaving her with the Speaker’s gavel but little power to do anything with it. The tension must be bubbling over.
--(Earlier this week, a knock at the door of Pelosi’s office)
“Come in,” Nancy Pelosi said, expecting the person behind the knock to be her personal hair stylist, specially flown in from San Francisco with party money to attend to her frayed coiffure and fingernails worn to the nub by constant nervous chewing and gnawing. Instead the octogenarian tyrant saw the bright but fiery eyes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who didn’t appear to be in any mood to work with the Speaker’s rapidly decaying hairdo.
“We lost another one,” AOC spoke in a tone barely above a whisper, sitting down opposite Pelosi without being invited to do so. “Out in California, that awful Mike Garcia was reelected. Christy Smith conceded. I heard they couldn’t find enough ballots to mail-in three weeks after the election. It’s tragic. Garcia, he’s a phony Hispanic. All the new Republicans are either minorities or women, too. What’s going on? Didn’t we make it clear that being a Republican automatically makes you a racist? A lot of us are thinking all of this carnage is your fault.”
Pelosi contemplated ordering the unsolicited intruder out of her presence but thought better of it. ‘I’m going to need the support of these wackos to stay in this office another two years. Everyone thinks I’ll resign if I don’t win the Speaker’s position again, since what’s the use of pow-wowing with these wannabe socialists if I can’t control everything from the top? It’d be like being a normal person again. Who the heck wants that? Let them eat cake -- or starve!’
After mentally reminding herself to speak with her assistant about not allowing the riffraff to get through the door again without a summons, Pelosi replied gently, “Don’t worry about it, lassie. All the fraud our people talked about during our planning sessions seems to have worked to get Joe Biden in the White House. We just didn’t have the resources to tip the balance everywhere. Chin up, missy. I’m still lord of this place and we’ve got at least another half-year of China-virus excuses ahead of us. Maybe we can use it to pass the Green New Deal.
“We already got all the mail voting we demanded. It got us Joe and Kamala. Hasta la vista, Donald Trump.”
The Speaker got up from her desk and walked over to a little table in the corner with a bunch of stuff scattered all over it. She pulled a plastic envelope with a number of linen masks with “Don’t fu(ss) with me” printed on them in bold letters and grabbed one for the New York congresswoman. Before handing it to the much younger woman, she squirted a big gob of hand sanitizer from the large clear plastic container into her palm and began briskly rubbing her hands together, producing a pungent aroma. ‘Ick, where’d they get this stuff, a Republican moonshine distillery? It smells horrible. Like a used diaper filled with Indian food or something… Where did I hear that?’
AOC was unimpressed. “A mask. Seriously? We’re losing members by the day and all you can do is keep up with this COVID bullcrap? It’s not like we see you wearing one when you’re not giving a press briefing. All those smiles, winks and nods aren’t fooling anyone on our side. You’re old as the hills of Berkeley -- if anyone should be wearing one all the time, it’s you.”
“Show some respect!” Pelosi snapped back. “First of all, it’s the Berkeley Hills, you little twit. And DiFi was caught on video not wearing a mask and she’s tons older than me. We’re the elites! We make the rules! You’re from New York and you don’t even own a winery like I do. You and your ‘Squad’ are the reason why our majority’s worn down to the bone. You people better toe the line or else Republicans are gonna get wind of our infighting and we’re history. You want that pocket-sized conservative jackass Jim Jordan to be running the show next year? Better shape up, kiddo.”
Enraged, AOC sprung to her feet, thoughts racing through her brain like a bolt of lightning from a climate change charged thunder cloud. ‘I don’t care what this old shriveled up bag says, there’s no way me and my (rhymes with riches) are going to vote for her for Speaker this time. We only need what, about five or six Democrats to agree to support someone else? Isn’t it about time that we honored a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pronoun-free human being to lead us? The ‘it’ better have dark skin, too. No more ancient white women with bad hair and wrinkles the size of the Grand Canyon anymore. I’m done!’
Unable to think up something more profound, AOC shouted, “Talk to the hand!” and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
Alone once again, Pelosi calmly opened the top drawer of her desk, searching for her appointment book. “When is that stylist going to get here? What is this world coming to?”
Democrats typically do a great job of ruining themselves but the liberal party can’t always be counted on to screw things up. Republicans are in prime position to retake the House majority in two years, but it’s by no means assured. The worst thing they can do is go along with what Democrats have in mind to try and make themselves popular. Will they get it?