The Corner

Jeb (Not Bush)

Today’s NRO editorial is on the race for the chairmanship of House Republican conference–a match between Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Rep. Jeb Hensarling in Texas. Some in the know-nothing media have portrayed this as a tea-party favorite (Bachmann) versus an establishment Republican (Hensarling). This is hogwash. Before becoming a congressman, Hensarling was Phil Gramm’s understudy; he remains the former senator’s protégé. Hensarling has fought lonely budget battles for years, without much help from Republicans who really are in the establishment. Indeed, if the GOP establishment had followed Hensarling’s lead on budgets, there probably would be no tea-party movement today because the tea partiers themselves would not see the need for it.

A few years ago, we decided that NRODT needed a story on budget-process reform. This topic is at once critically important and also deadly dull. As a writer, my challenge was to figure out a way to discuss the subject without boring readers out of their gourds. My approach was to profile Hensarling–i.e., to make the article a story about a man and his efforts to control federal spending. If you’re following the Bachmann-Hensarling contest, you may want to check it out.

John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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