The Spectacle Blog

House Race: Two on Laurels, One on Principles

By on 1.29.06 | 9:22PM

The New York Times, in its House majority leader race report for tomorrow's editions, captures the essence of each campaign:

Mr. Blunt, 56, the majority whip who has been serving as interim majority leader since Mr. DeLay's indictment in Texas last fall on campaign-related money laundering charges, has portrayed himself as a seasoned member of the leadership team - essentially the incumbent. "This is no time for on-the-job training," Mr. Blunt said in an interview.

Mr. Boehner (pronounced BAY-ner), 56, the chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee and a member of the House leadership in the 1990's, is emphasizing his legislative capabilities, pointing to major education and pension bills he delivered with rare bipartisan support. "I am the only one with broad legislative skills and experience," Mr. Boehner said.

Mr. Shadegg (pronounced SHAD-egg), also 56, a conservative leader who surrendered his post as chairman of the internal party policy committee when he entered the race, is selling himself as the candidate who can bring the new vision that he said the party needed given the scandals and the drifting away from a commitment to hold spending in check.

"We need a clean break from the past," said Mr. Shadegg, who entered the race five days after his two competitors, giving them a substantial head start. "We need someone who has no baggage going back to K Street or past practices."

House Republicans are facing a conservative base widely dissatisfied with their free-spending ways and a general public that perceives them as corrupt. Yet the most the front-runners in the majority leader race can say for themselves is that they're insiders. They're in the middle of a crisis but don't seem to realize it. Everything I've seen from the Blunt and Boehner camps indicates anything but a Shadegg victory means more of the same. It's bad news for the party, bad news for conservatism, and bad news for the country.

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