speaker of the house
Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who last week gave his support to Trump, said Tuesday that Trump’s recent attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel of a United States District Court was “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Textbook racism, said Ryan — but he has yet to withdraw his support.
While Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s speech to a committee room full of interns on March 23 focused on restoring civility to political discourse, the speech also contained a surprising twist. Ryan, who has publicly endorsed the writings of Ayn Rand, admitted, “I’m certainly not going to stand here and tell you I have always met this standard” of civility.
In case you missed it, a strong and militant group of Republican members of Congress have pushed out their caucus leaders, paralyzed the House of Representatives, and can’t seem to find anyone who is as right-wing as they are to be the next Speaker.
These guys — and they are almost all guys; among 36 documented members, only one is a woman — call themselves the Freedom Caucus. And with the exception of one Latino from Utah, the members of this invitation-only group are all white.
The ideology of the Freedom Caucus is far to the right and they want procedural commitments from any new Speaker that would allow them to effectively prevent any compromises with Democrats, and allow them to shut down the government when their extreme demands are not met.
My experience in the worlds of both religion and politics convinces me that one of three issues is at the heart of the catastrophic demise of any leader — money, sex, or power. Sometimes it’s a trifecta of all three together, like the case of John Edwards, the former Democratic presidential candidate. But in virtually every case, a leader’s personal inability to exercise appropriate constraint and control over one or more of these three dimensions of life can lead to careers that crumble and reputations that become shattered.
That’s why, despite all the fascination on the external qualities, traits, and strategies of successful leaders, it’s their internal lives that can be far more decisive in their long-term ability to be transformative leaders — or not. But that requires attentiveness to the powerful but often hidden dynamics of one’s interior life, which “successful” leaders rarely have the time or courage to undertake.
The stunning primary defeat of Eric Cantor could be a blessing for passing immigration reform. Cantor, as Majority Leader in the House and the number two Republican, was no ally of immigration reform and was likely an obstacle to crucial bi-partisan action. Always lurking in the shadows and clearly hoping to be the next Speaker of the House, Cantor was a threat to John Boehner. Apparently, continually working the inside game to become the Speaker, instead of being a member of Congress who represented his district was one of the biggest reasons Cantor lost his election.
There is some good stuff on the God’s Politics blog this week encouraging Christians to drop their concern about the “war on Christmas.” It’s a good idea. However, as we’re getting over our huff about “Happy Holidays,” we’d like to shift your attention to the real war on Christmas: the priorities of Washington politicians that are fundamentally at odds with the hope, love, joy, and peace celebrated by Christians during the Advent season.
As political leaders engage in negotiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” we need them to preserve programs that reduce poverty and keep our families healthy. Unfortunately, House Speaker John Boehner and others in Congress are pushing to cut programs for the poor and vulnerable, while protecting tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
In response to Sojourners' radio ads about the budget debates, the Family Research Council's political action committee has launched radio ads in Kentucky and Ohio arguing that deficit reduction should cut programs that serve poor and vulnerable people. The ads assert that it is the private individual, not government, who has a responsibility to the poor. The ads say, "Jesus didn't instruct the government of his day to take the rich young ruler's property and redistribute it to the poor. He asked the ruler to sell his possessions and help the poor. Charity is an individual choice, not a government mandate."
This could put the speaker of the House, a Catholic, in a difficult position. Catholic social teaching instructs that the government does have a direct responsibility to the poor and that private charity is only one of the ways that Christians express concern for "the least of these." This ad sets itself in direct opposition to that teaching and the values that it comes from. The speaker was already in a tough spot when the Catholic bishops came out with a strong critique of the House plan, but now he has a powerful political organization calling for him to ignore Catholic social teaching all together.