Harper makes sound statement; comments by Palazzo are weak
Following the vote that re-elected John Boehner as Speaker of the House, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo issued a statement saying that many people asked him to vote against Boehner. Palazzo then proceeded to say that before the vote he met with Boehner one-on-one for more than an hour. With the full plate that Boehner has as Speaker, please forgive me if I can’t quite believe that Boehner took the time to meet “one-on-one” with Palazzo for “more than an hour.”
From that point on, Palazzo’s statement only got more pathetic. You would have thought that Palazzo threatened the Speaker and Boehner promptly quivered and caved in to Palazzo’s demands. Palazzo claimed that he extracted a pledge from Boehner that the Speaker would “stand up to the liberal agenda of President Obama.” Wow, consider that. Without Palazzo’s demands Boehner would have probably become the leading supporter of Obama in the U.S. House.
Palazzo closed his statement by saying that he decided to “choose my constituents and South Mississippi over a purely political vote” because the Republicans who were nominated to oppose Boehner had no chance of winning. Palazzo was obviously worried about being shot at from the far right by his tea party constituents like state senators Chris McDaniel of Laurel and Michael Watson of Pascagoula. It’s no secret that Watson has considered running against Palazzo. So instead of Palazzo making what he termed a “purely political vote,” he issued a pitiful and purely political press release. Of course, it didn’t take long for the chairman of the South Mississippi Tea Party to lash out at Palazzo. According to the Sun Herald newspaper, Barry Neyrey, chairman of the tea party in South Mississippi, blasted Palazzo on his Facebook page and vowed to see that Palazzo won’t be elected in 2016 to a fourth term in Congress. I spent 19 years in Washington, D.C. and 14 of those years I worked on Capitol Hill. If some tea party leaders don’t think that John Boehner is a conservative, they are idiots. But on the other hand, some of the tea party leaders do need to make a trip to the hardware store to replace some missing screws.
Add to this group an organization that puts out something called the “Conservative Intelligence Briefing.” The group should be prohibited from using the word “intelligence” in the email I received from them. The Conservative Intelligence Briefing headlined that “Boehner Squeezes Out Re-election” by the “slimmest margin since the Civil War.” Of course when the vote for Speaker was taken by the full House of Representatives, Democrats in the minority voted for former speaker Nancy Pelosi while 24 Republicans voted against Boehner and one GOP member voted “present.” When 216 Republicans voted for Boehner and only 25 GOP members opposed his re-election, that is a party landslide for Boehner no matter how you cut it.
Contrast the statements of Palazzo with those made by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper in a column Sunday before last in the Jackson Clarion Ledger. Harper wrote (emphasis mine), “A number of television and radio hosts, as well as outside groups, whose primary purpose is to raise money to work, not against Democrats, but against Republicans, urged us to vote for a member who ultimately only got three votes (one of which was his own).”
Harper went on to note that two of the Republicans who voted against Boehner were removed, after the vote, by the Speaker from the House Rules Committee. He noted that the Rules Committee is essential for legislation that reaches the House floor for a vote, and Boehner’s move was to assure Republican control over legislation. I agree that Boehner should have sent a message to his opposition that you don’t reward your political enemies. The full text of Harper’s column is worth reading and should be a warning to so-called Republicans on the far right that the GOP does not benefit from a circular firing squad. As I have noted in the past, the tea party and some of their allies must cause Democrats to rejoice. Another thing should be noted; when Chris McDaniel opposed Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP primary last year, Harper was very out front in leading pro-Cochran Republicans while Palazzo was mostly silent in the race. And just in case, it should also be noted that Rep. Harper’s conservative credentials are just as solid as those of Speaker Boehner.