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The Speaker of the House will be...?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 6/10/2015 Arnold Steinberg

As the Republican Whip, the hard-working and dedicated Kevin McCarthy has been a team player, and that's a key requirement for House Speaker. He has gone on the road to recruit Congressional candidates and raise money for these targeted races. He has been a big tactical asset to the Republican Party, but he is more into politics, less into policy. But do Republicans need something more at this juncture. McCarthy graduated to House Majority Leader when a low-spending upstart unexpectedly defeated the incumbent Eric Cantor, Smug Establishment Guy. McCarthy sees everything through a political lens; hence, in a national television interview, he gratuitously and falsely linked the serious and essential Benghazi investigation with the politics of taking down Hillary.
On Fox News, former Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier said McCarthy gave Hillary the first good day she has had in a year. Former Democrat pollster Pat Caddell, a frequent critic of Hillary, said McCarthy may have given her a "get out of jail card," and McCarthy's mischaracterization of the Benghazi probe should disqualify him from the Speakership. Just as the inquiry into Benghazi is legitimate, so too is the inquiry into whether Secretary of State Clinton violated the law with her private email account, which may have been used for classified information. Now, Hillary will reprise her "right wing conspiracy" narrative. But McCarthy's real disservice is to the Members of Congress and their staff who undertook this Benghazi investigation to find out what really happened, and whether there was a cover-up at the highest level.
One former major prosecutor wrote me: "It wasn't like McCarthy got tripped up by a 'gotcha' question... He will be featured in Hillary campaign ads, particularly if he is elected Speaker. For that reason alone he is unsuitable. The unpardonable sin was saying something that was untrue in a clumsy way that gave Clinton, the subject of the investigation, a boost."
Talking even here about the political impact of McCarthy's misstatement makes this more of a political football. Forget about whether something helps or hurts Hillary Clinton. The question is whether Congress has the right to investigate Benghazi, and whether it should have opened and continued such an investigation.
In effect, McCarthy called into question the initial Benghazi hearings two years ago and also now has prejudiced the new hearings on October 22, putting the Select Committee, rather than Hillary, on the defensive. Indeed, emboldened by McCarthy's blunder, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28), ironically a former prosecutor who condoned the Obama Administration's cover-up of Benghazi, and himself a political hack who made a fool of himself with his tortured support of Obama's "Iran deal," disingenuously called for cancellation of the Benghazi hearings. Contrary to Schiff and Democrat spin, McCarthy did not "tell the truth." Now, Hillary complains "Republicans are making a partisan issue over the death of four Americans." That's demagoguery.
Republicans should have quickly and unanimously repudiated McCarthy's grotesque formulation, which actually is worse in context. Instead, some on Capitol Hill, and even conservative columnist Fred Barnes, defended him. McCarthy is damaged goods and cannot lead effectively. However, the larger problem is this: Just as Scott Walker's comparison of his confronting unions as governor with his confronting ISIS as president telegraphed that he was not ready for prime time, Republicans in Congress are now on notice that McCarthy could be a disaster as House Speaker. But instead of calling on McCarthy to withdraw his candidacy for House Speaker, most of his Republican colleagues remain clueless and will support him, at least on a first ballot.
Yet McCarthy probably will not secure the required 218-vote majority of the House of Representatives . Splitting the vote will be his two likely Republican opponents -- Daniel Webster (FL-10), former Speaker of the Florida House, and Jason Chaffetz (UT-3), who chaired the botched Planned Parenthood hearings. Webster has been in Congress for five years, Chaffetz for seven, and McCarthy nine. Many Republicans around longer feel Webster and Chaffetz have chutzpah, and they secretly believe McCarthy advanced too quickly. Newt Gingrich had sixteen years before becoming Speaker in 1994. At that point, brilliant orator Phil Crane had been in Congress for 25 years, but alcoholism eclipsed his dream to be House Speaker.
After Webster and Chaffetz deprive McCarthy of a first ballot victory, the candidacy of all three could likely be history. Who, then, will Republicans select as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives?
The Constitution does not require the House Speaker to be a sitting member.

Some had suggested Newt Gingrich, but he is old news. In reality, even he was surprised when Republicans won the House1994, and his sudden tenure was hardly reformist, it was more Wall Street than Main Street. For the most part, it was business as usual under Gingrich. But Gingrich now endorsed McCarthy, and that endorsement shows Gingrich's judgment remains flawed.
Do Republicans want a master of House rules? Republicans would do well with a quintessential parliamentarian like Bob Bauman who started as a Congressional page and worked on Capitol Hill for 18 years before his election to Congress at age 33. But Bob was defeated in 1980 after a homosexual scandal and is 78 years old. Besides, a House Speaker can hire good lawyers. How about a former Member of Congress with Ronald Reagan's optimism and upbeat personality? That would be Jack Kemp. But he died six years ago. And the House Speaker can't sublet optimism. The House Speaker is, after the vice president, next in line for the presidency. Why not former presidential candidate and governor, Mitt Romney? He could deal with the 43 percent (of Congress who are Democrats and dependent on government).
Republicans need a Speaker of the House who is a front guy (or woman) who can talk and walk at the same time, is not verbally accident prone, and who projects a positive and optimistic persona, someone likable and not angry all the time.
Before we get serious, let's have some fun.
Should Republicans go to the Academy? Economist-professors Tom Sowell or Walter Williams would surely lift the average IQ in Congress, as would Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn or the formidable thinker Bill Bennett. But perhaps their sound bites would be 50 minutes.

Presidential wannabees? Rick Perry dropped out too quickly to be considered. And Scott Walker has a day job. Chris Christie said he "would rather jump off the Brooklyn Bridge" than be Speaker. Mike Huckabee could perform traditional weddings under the Capitol Dome, where he might turn away same-sex couples. Perhaps Ben Carson could work with the two Muslims in Congress. Carly Fiorina could easily trump Nancy Pelosi on IQ. And Donald Trump could insult K Street lobbyists and refuse their money for the Republican Party.. But Ann Coulter any day of the week could trump Trump's insults.
Do Republicans need a House Speaker who can do radio fireside chats? Dennis Prager may be too academic, Larry Elder is too libertarian, and Michael Medved would watch too many movies. How about a constitutional conservative like "The Great One" Mark Levin? He could make Ted Cruz sound conciliatory. Why settle for Sean Hannity, when Rush Limbaugh could broadcast daily from the Speaker's office?
What about a telegenic House Speaker? Where is Jimmy Stewart now that Republicans need Mr. Smith to go to Washington? ISIS threatens us at home, and the FBI's Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. is gone. Other Republicans in entertainment? Unfortunately, Mel Gibson would invite the Iranian president to address Congress. And rehabilitated Schwarzenegger already has agreed to be "Celebrity Apprentice." Besides, could he handle those seductive female interns, especially if they are doing housekeeping chores in his office? Actor James Woods played too many villains, even Nixon Enforcer Bob Haldeman. Even at 75, Chuck Norris could kick ass, so Congressional Republicans would no longer need a Republican Whip. Gary Sinese could help the veterans about whom Donald Trump always talks. Tom Selleck could proclaim that Blue Lives Matter. Pat Boone is 81 and Jon Voigt is 77, but Sylvester Stallone is only 69 and could eat raw eggs on the historic Speaker's Balcony. Clint Eastwood is 85, but he can leave his chair empty when Obama gives his next State of the Union. Jim Belushi could seamlessly appear on "Saturday Night Live." Jackie Mason is 84 but could still take on Obama; Yakov Smirnoff is only 64 and could ridicule Putin, though what's happening in Syria is tragic, not comical Joan Rivers is resting in pace, but Ben Stein could mobilize his nasal tone in conference committee with Harry Reid.
Let's get serious. Here are two examples to inspire discussion.
Within Congress, Republicans could consider someone without that "lean and hungry look." For example, Congressman Ed Royce - like Congressman Kevin McCarthy -- has worked hard for Republican candidates and raised campaign funds for the party's targeted races. But Ed is much more than a party loyalist. He is highly intelligent, deeply analytical and respected by his colleagues, Democrats and Republicans. He has credibility here and abroad, and with the media. Would Ed be willing to resign as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee?
Going outside Congress, Republicans could consider Mitch Daniels who served two very successful terms as Governor of Indiana. Mitch is brainy and unpretentious, astute and folksy. His formidable background includes Capitol Hill and politics, Federal and state government, law and business, think tanks and philanthropy. His expertise spans many issues. He once headed the U.S. Office of Management and Budget but is a down-to-earth, a plausible populist. Would Mitch leave his position as Purdue University President?
Any other names?

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