The Corner

Moderate Threat Fizzles

The size of a bloc of GOP moderates ready to bring down a vote on the House floor over the government-funding bill shriveled from 25 lawmakers on Saturday to just two when the House voted just now to pass the rule.

New York representative Peter King and Pennsylvania representative Charlie Dent, two key moderates, voted no, while four hardline conservatives, including Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, voted no because the bill didn’t draw a hard enough line against Obamacare.

The episode is a reminder of how congressional centrists aren’t as reliable as ideological warriors when it comes to keeping threats. But it also took a personal appeal from Speaker John Boehner and the particular circumstances of the vote to sway the group.

During the rule vote, Boehner went to the back of the House chamber to deliver a message to the would-be moderate revolutionaries. “Trust me,” Boehner told them, according to King. Boehner said he understood their concerns, but he had a plan that would make the dire situation turn out alright.

When Boehner has made similar appeals to the conservatives, it has often fallen on deaf ears. In both parties, those further toward the left and right flanks tend to have greater certitude about their views, prompting a willingness to buck the party line. Moderates, by their very nature, make unlikely participants in a rump rebellion.

Another factor keeping the moderates from gaining steam was the content of the bill Republicans will send to the Senate later this evening. Its inclusion of a provision to repeal a subsidy for lawmakers and congressional staff to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges means voting against it opens up lawmakers to a charge, rightly or wrongly, of trying to protect a special perk for Congress.

In the end, even with bad optics and Boehner’s personal pitch, the vote was still fairly close. About ten Republicans voted yes quickly after the rule vote obtained a majority, making it clear it would win. That is, some of those were willing to vote no, but not join a losing effort.  

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More