Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad speaker candidates
For 30 years, the Republican Party has had a horrible track record for Speakers. But they've still managed to find new lows. Here's what you need to know about the front-runners.
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Let’s be frank: The Republican Party has a horrible track record for Speakers. I mean, it’s tragic. This chaos is nothing new. But it is much worse than even the low bottom norm they had established for the past 30 years.
Chaos is the brand
Back in 1994, the “face of decency and public service” Republican Leader Bob Michel was pushed out of the speakership by the noxious Newt Gingrich. Thomas Mann said, “I see that transition — the shift from Michel to Gingrich — as the beginning of our really dreadfully dysfunctional Congress and a politics that became so personal and negative and anti-institutional that it really changed the whole character of public life in this country.”
I won’t allow cannibalism
Then on November 6th, 1998 on the heels of his ethics reprimand, Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) resigned amid a rebellion brought on more by the party’s unexpected electoral losses than by his ethics issues. Gingrich lashed out at the Republicans who attacked him on TV and blamed him for the losses, saying of his fellow Republicans, "The ones you see on TV are hateful. I am willing to lead, but I won't allow cannibalism."
Gingrich, if you recall, led the party to its first majority victory in decades just four years before that. After spending his political capital attacking then President Bill Clinton over what was a consensual affair (that in today’s climate would rightfully be seen as an abusive of power), decades later when he wanted to run for President, Gingrich admitted that actually, he had cheated on his first and second wives. Yep. Family values all of the way.
Hustler took him down
Next up, was Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), who although a longtime friend of Gingrich, said he would challenge Gingrich for the gavel when they met on Nov. 18.
Livingston was the man. He was chosen.
But… before they took the impeachment vote against Clinton in December of 1998, Livingston announced he was resigning because he, too, had had an affair. Livingston had been outed by Hustler publisher Larry Flint, of all people, who had offered up $1 million to anyone who had proof of an affair with a top government official.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Hush money + sexual abuse of minors invovling a wrestling coach
I know, you thought I was jumping to Jim Jordan perhaps. Not so fast.
Dennis Hastert, a six-term Illinois Congressman, became speaker in 1999. But he resigned in 2007 and then eventually ended up…
… In prison.
That’s right. In 2015, Hastert faced federal charges of financial crimes and lying to investigators about money used as “hush money” to cover up his sexual misconduct.
In April 2016, allegations were made by federal prosecutors that during his time as a high school wrestling coach, Hastert had molested at least 4 boys as young as 14. Hastert admitted that he had molested boys he had coached.
Yes, the party values brought the country a Speaker to whom a judge referred as a "serial child molester.”
Hastert also made history as the highest-ranking official to serve a prison sentence. Perhaps Donald Trump will take this dubious honor from Hastert.
That time Jim Jordan pushed out a speaker
Before Hastert went to prison, he had become a lobbyist. So meanwhile in the House, we had hit Tea Party times, which brought Ohio Republican John Boehner to the gavel who served between 2011 to 2015.
But he, too, was forced out by conservative agitators – led by… Jim Jordan and his angry band of nihilistic juveniles who self identify as the “House Freedom Caucus.”
Rep. Kevin McCarthy was sure that was his time, but “Young Gun” Paul Ryan of Wisconsin beat him to it. Paul Ryan served between 2015 to January of 2019. With no screaming scandals other than his failure to “repeal and replace” Obamacare despite Republicans claiming they would do just that and his passage of Trump’s tax cut that benefits the mostly wealthy, it was still odd when Ryan suddenly announced in 2018 that he would not be seeking reelection to “spend more time with his children.”
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