GOP establishment now held captive by the Tea Party monster it helped create


When the Tea Party movement arose in the Republican Party soon after Barack Obama became president, the GOP establishment didn’t put up much of a fight against it. It almost welcomed the newcomers. But more than a few Republicans who can walk upright eventually became fearful of angering the knuckle-draggers on the far right.

Look at what happened to Rep. Eric Cantor, who had risen to the third-ranking post among GOP House members. The Tea Party kooks decided that he wasn’t sufficiently radical, so they defeated him in a primary election. That kind of thing made more than a few establishment Republicans wary of offending the right-wing extremists.

Mind you,  the Tea Party types represent only a minority among House Republicans, but there are enough of them to create a big mess when they want to. And now they’re disrupting their party’s effort to choose a successor to John Boehner as House speaker.

Columnist Dana Milbank of The Washington Post DESCRIBES the situation thusly:

The speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency, and since the founding of the Republic the position has been one of the most important in government, key to national security and domestic tranquility.

Now a band of about three dozen conservative hardliners, exploiting the partisan divide, has essentially hijacked the chamber, reducing the speaker’s role to that of a figurehead subservient to their wishes.

This isn’t a leadership battle; it’s a coup.


The next speaker — whoever that may be — will have to pick between two poisons: Defy the few dozen conservative zealots who hold the balance of power in the House and thereby lose his gavel, or surrender to the conservatives and take the Republican Party (and perhaps the country) into a quagmire of default and shutdown.