Surprise: You don’t have to be a member of Congress to be elected speaker of the House

Among the many reasons why I am by far the most popular 70-year-old Irish-American political blogger for a Gatehouse newspaper Web site is that I know lots of things the others don’t know.

I know, for example, that you don’t have to be a lawyer to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I also know that you don’t have to be a priest to be elected Pope by the College of Cardinals. (That’s actually happened at least once.)

And more to the point I’m going to get to in this post, you don’t have to be a member of Congress to be elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Norman J. Ornstein put it this way in a column yesterday for the Washington Post: “Go to Article I, Section 2: The Constitution does not say that the speaker of the House has to be a member of the House. In fact, the House can choose anybody a majority wants to fill the post.”

Now, in light of that last little factoid, let’s get down to cases here, shall we?

The current speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner of Ohio,  is an utter incompetent. There’s really no argument about that. Polls show him to be about as popular as leprosy. He has virtually no control over members of his Republican caucus, which is Job No. 1 for any House speaker. As a lawmaker and so-called leader, his political skills are non-existent.

Which brings us to the fact that the 113th Congress will decide on Jan. 3 whether to renew Boehner’s speakership for another two years or find someone else for the job. Of course, this new House, like the old one, will be controlled by Republicans. That means the speaker, whether it’s Boehner or not, will also be a GOPer.

But since the Constitution allows for a non-member of Congress to be elected speaker, perhaps the best course would be to find some Republican from outside for the job. Hell, they could hardly do worse than Boehner if they randomly chose someone from a hatful of names.

So, here’s my idea: It’s a longshot, but I’m proposing that the names of every Republican state legislator in America be placed in a large hat (or barrel, if need be) and one name be drawn from said container by  the Honorable Paul D. Irving, the sergeant at arms of the U.S. House of Representatives.

What say ye?



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