Wanted: Two Conservative Communicators - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Wanted: Two Conservative Communicators

It is nowhere written on the heart of man by the finger of God that the presidency is the only political bully pulpit. But John Boehner . and Mitch McConnell . don’t understand this. (Neither does Reince Priebus, but this is for another day.) This is why Boehner was obliged to give up the Speakership, and why a Rasmussen poll last week showed that only 22 percent of Republican voters want McConnell to continue as Senate Majority Leader.

Sticking with Rasmussen, another survey last week showed only 14 percent of Republican voters say Boehner’s resignation is a bad thing for congressional Republicans while 45 percent say his departure is a good thing. A third of those polled say it’s a wash. No surprise, Democrats are much more fond of the tan man from Ohio, with 34 percent of them saying Boehner’s departure is bad for the GOP. 

Almost all the discussion of Boehner’s departure as Speaker, and the lingering dissatisfaction with McConnell, have centered around items the Republican Congress could not accomplish: overturning Obamacare, stopping the Iranian nuclear capitulation, rooting Planned Parenthood out of the federal trough, and on. Boehner’s and McConnell’s defenders have pointed out that there are not enough Republican votes to override an Obama veto in these areas. And it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in arithmetic to see that this is so. They also say that Boehner and McConnell are fine chaps with conservative voting records. Again, no argument. But this doesn’t entirely cover why conservatives are dissatisfied with how these two have performed their leadership duties.

Part of the Speaker’s duty is to speak. One of the reasons why there have not been enough votes for conservative legislation is that the case has not been made for it. Making the case is part of both Boehner’s and McConnell’s jobs. But when Obama miniaturizes and feminizes the American military in the face of growing security threats across the world, when he continues to spend wildly, when he engages in frontal assaults on Americans’ personal and religious freedoms, when he learns to quit worrying and love the Iranian bomb, when he encourages left-wing activists in federal agencies (not the least the EPA) to strangle the economy with unnecessary regulation, when he fails to faithfully execute laws that don’t advance his agenda, and when the party of Bill Clinton (Bill Clinton!) bangs on about a “war on women,” the silence from Boehner and McConnell has been deafening.

All the items above make the lives of all Americans worse, regardless of their race, sex, or economic condition. There are better conservative alternatives. But these need to be articulated and promoted. And it’s up to conservatives to do it. We’ll get no help from the mainstream media, from academe, the education or entertainment industries, even, increasingly, from corporate America. No one is suggesting that America’s lurch to the left is all down to the right’s “fail-yu to communicate.” But that’s certainly part of it. And part of the reason why the Republican establishment is in such bad odor with its conservative base just now.

While Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator, Boehner and McConnell are non-communicators. They, along with other high-ranking Republican officials, give lip service to “our conservative principles” but do little to retail them. And they always seem to be able to find a way to swim with the big government tide, which, in the current Washington vernacular, is known as “being realistic.” In fact, if one were to listen to all of John Boehner’s pronouncements on continuous loop, it would be easy to conclude that the biggest problem facing the republic today is fractious conservatives, not Obama’s left-wing policies. The party of the right needs to be making the left own its bad policies and the bad results that come from them, not carping at its own members. 

The Speaker’s and the Majority Leader’s pulpits are not as gaudy as the president’s, and they’ll never receive quite as much attention. But they need to be taken advantage of if America is to stand any chance of not morphing into the United Soviet States. The handicappers’ current favorite to replace Boehner is Congressman Kevin McCarthy . of California, the current House Majority Leader. But on the available evidence, McCarthy would be a net no-gain over Boehner as a conservative spokesman. Maybe even a step back. 

McCarthy has been all over the talk shows since Boehner’s surprise announcement, and mostly what I’ve heard from him is saccharin sentimentality about “changing the culture in Washington” (pu-leeze) and the usual bows in the direction of “conservative principles” without suggesting what these principles might be and what policies might flow from them. He has the look of a careerist full of vague happy-talk but not much in the way of conviction or knowledge. A rush chairman kind of guy at Tappa Kegga Beer.

The flap over McCarthy’s comments on Benghazi, Mz. Hillary, and her declining poll numbers, suggests that in addition to being ideologically bland, McCarthy is a bit politically ham-handed and inarticulate as well. On this sample I would say he is verbally disarmed, combining some of the less fortunate verbal attributes of both George W. Bush and Joe Biden. If he ever has to go up against Debbie Motormouth-Schultz he better bring his dental records along to aid in identification after the encounter. She’ll hang him out to dry.

Republican House members will make their choice for Speaker soon. Those looking for Boehner 2.0 will likely line up with McCarthy. Those looking for a conservative champion will look elsewhere. Perhaps they’ll take a look at Congressman Jason Chaffetz . of Utah, or Congressman Dan Webster . of Florida, both of whom have entered the race.

No word yet on whether McConnell is yearning to start work on his memoirs back at his Old Kentucky home. But lots of Republicans think it’s time.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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