House Republicans finally get it right
Despite the Democrats and their media flunkies going on a full-scale demonization of the new House Speaker Mike Johnson, it appears to me that the GOP has found the right guy for the moment.
Democrats claim that Johnson is some sort of maniacal rightwing extremist. In reality, he is a rock-solid principled conservative – which those on the left see as … a maniacal rightwing extremist. He is called an election denier for his efforts to secure recounts in the 2020 election – and his vote to not certify the results of the Electoral College vote. He certainly had concerns about the vote count at the time – but nothing he did was illegal, unconstitutional, or out of line with actions taken by political operatives in past elections.
What struck me most about Johnson was his Reagan-esque quality. Even CNN’s Chuck Todd – who never met a conservative he would not attack – described Johnson as having a pleasant personality – not given to the harsh crossfire rhetoric that has come to characterize modern political discourse. Todd went on to say that Johnson is able to address controversial issues convincingly and without acrimony.
While he is firm in his beliefs, he respects the opinions of others. That means he can be a unifier for the House Republicans and an effective negotiator with Democrats.
Considering the chaotic process that ended the speakership of Kevin McCarty – and doomed the elections of four more prominent candidates for Speaker – Johnson received a strong mandate from House Republicans by winning the speakership by a unanimous vote – something that did not happen for a Republican since the election of Speaker John Boehner in 2011.
While he is called an “extremist” – even an “uber extremist” by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski – Johnson’s beliefs and principles are shared by at least half of the American public. He itemized them in his speech as Individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, strong national defense, traditional values, rule-of-law and American exceptionalism. He called them both conservative values and basic American values – although I fear some on the left do not embrace them.
Still … it was important that he remind the people of his and millions of American’s core values. They are the foundation upon which issues are examined and policies determined.
Johnson declared that the House is “back in business.” While critics see the manner in which the Speaker’s chair was vacated and eventually filled as an indication of dysfunction, and will make it harder – even impossible in the judgment of some critics – to maintain control of the House after the 2024 elections.
More likely, serious issues and unanticipated events will put this temporary tempest in a teapot into the political rearview mirror. Johnson’s leadership – and the performance of the Republican majority – will be judged on that happens in the future. And the change of Speaker will not be on the minds of voters heading to the polls in a year from now.
Like Reagan before him, Johnson has strong beliefs but pursues them without rancor. Also, like Reagan, Johnson is a very effective public communicator – something McCarthy lacked.
As did Reagan, Johnson seems to understand that beliefs—no matter how strongly held – need to be tempered in the negotiating process. Winning 80 percent is better than losing 100 percent. He demonstrated this in his comments directed to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries – saying that despite disagreements on policy, they can work together for the benefit of the American people.
In the spirit that no one gets everything they want, I have my one issue disagreement with the new Speaker. He has previously opposed more money for Ukraine. I believe that is a huge mistake. But … based on his pledge to not operate as an authoritarian Speaker, who might refuse to bring such important issues to the floor, I trust that the aid will get a vote and be approved by Congress.
As the months go by, I suspect that – like Reagan – Johnson will become more and more popular with the people despite the left’s efforts to demonize him.
So, there ‘tis.