Can Pete King Save Republicans from Becoming “The Party of Nonsense?”
By John Feehery
He also hates bullies.
When Newt Gingrich stepped off the back of Air Force One and complained that President Clinton wouldn’t talk to him, King called the Speaker, “political road kill.”
He did public battle with Tom DeLay at the height of DeLay’s political powers, something few people ever did.
By taking on Ted Cruz, another Texas politician he sees as a bully, King is doing what he always does: speaking truth to power.
King has spoken forcefully against libertarians who support deep cuts in military spending and who oppose government surveillance of suspected terrorists.
He has even traveled to New Hampshire and floated the possibility of running for President, because he feels strongly that America shouldn’t become a second rate military power.
King comes by his feistiness naturally. He boxed at Notre Dame, and he can both take a punch and give a punch.
His district on Long Island is not easily Republican, although because he is an excellent Congressman, he usually wins pretty comfortably.
But if the Republican Party becomes the Party of Nonsense, he may lose his seat.
Like I said, he doesn’t do the alternative universe thing, but these days, that has become an increasingly popular place to dwell for more and more members of the House Republican Conference.
Most members secretly agree with King that following Ted Cruz is completely insane, but they don’t see the percentage in making their beliefs public. That’s how you get a primary, they reason, and who needs the Twitter grief?
But Congressional Republicans have to be careful. If this nonsense goes on too long, they might get a primary challenge from the rational wing of the party, and if that doesn’t happen, rational Republicans might very well decide to leave the GOP entirely.
King voted against a rule on one of the Continuing Resolutions that was rebuffed by the Senate as a protest. He was joined only by Charlie Dent (who faces general election pressures of his own), and by a familiar collection of right-wingers who routinely vote against the Speaker on everything (including Michele Bachmann).
The reason other so-called moderates (and King is only a moderate in the alternative universe populated by the Tea Party), didn’t join the New York Congressman was because they like John Boehner and they don’t want to screw him.
But at some point, more and more members of the Rational Republican Party are going to say enough is enough, and at that point, the government will reopen.
The trick for Boehner is to try to keep his team united enough so that he can get a deal on the debt limit and other budget items. The other trick for Boehner is to get all 180 members of the House who basically agree that the government needs to run and that the debt limit needs to be extended to vote that way, so that he and the forty courageous members who usually vote with him are not publicly isolated, sitting ducks for the conservative industrial complex to raise money off of.
Pete King is trying to pull the party back to a more defensible position. I hope he is successful.