John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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The Happy Warrior

Posted on June 19, 2014
Steve Scalise.jpg
Steve Scalise is a conservative, but as Quinn Hillyer put it in the National Review, channeling Mike Huckabee, he’s not mad about it.

As the head of the Republican Study Committee, Scalise picked his moments to engage with House Republican leadership and picked his moments to enrage the House Republican Leadership.

Now, he is part of the House Republican Leadership.



Scalise is a traditional conservative.  He is no fan of President Obama, he has railed against the President’s energy polices and health care law.  He is also 100 percent pro-life and gets an A+ rating from the gun lobby.

But Scalise isn’t content to complain.  He is doer, not a whiner.  And that’s why he won the race for Whip.

As the head of the RSC, he pushed the House Republican Conference to adopt a “no budget, no pay” strategy that forced the Senate to finally agree to pass a budget for the first time in a half decade.  Once you threaten to dock the pay of a Senator, then you get their attention.

He came up with a plan to highlight the problems with Obamacare by urging his constituents to “share with Scalise” their stories about the deficiencies in the law.  But he didn’t just curse the darkness.  He also developed an alternative to Obamacare and has been urging his colleagues in the leadership to schedule a vote on that alternative.

Now, to be clear, I don’t think it would be wise to have that vote before the election, mostly because I don’t think the Republicans should put a big fat target on their back, but I admire Scalise for his tenacity and audacity.

Scalise doesn’t look under every rock for a different conspiracy.  He is not a jihadist, trying to force ideological purity upon his colleagues or upon the leadership.  Because he is not a conservative mullah, he is distrusted by some on the far-far right, but that is to be expected.   These guys don’t trust their own mothers.

One of Scalise’s most impressive actions as the head of the RSC was to dismiss Paul Teller, a staff member who came to believe that his views were more important than the views of elected Members of Congress.

It had long been known by other members of the Republican Study Committee that Teller aggressively undermined Republican efforts to govern, but none of the previous Chairman had the courage to discipline the rogue staffer.

Scalise did have that courage, and by firing Teller, he reminded the Congress as an institution that it is the elected Members, not the staff, who actually are accountable to the voters.

Scalise’s ascension to the Whip office is a victory for those representatives who hail from Southern States who complained that they lacked a seat at the leadership table.

But it’s also a victory for rational conservatives who want to move the country forward in a positive direction.

By leading the rambunctious 170-strong RSC, Scalise learned how diverse the conservative movement is.  Not everybody in that group agreed with everything Scalise did or what he believed, but they all agreed that Steve was a happy warrior who brought energy, passion and creativity to the cause.

The House Republican Conference will only be helped by Scalise’s presence at the leadership table.  It needed a healthy dose of “Happy Warrior” and with his victory today, they got it.