Congress

The GOP Committee Purge: Not About Policy, But the "Asshole Factor"?

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The GOP leadership in the House is selling a counterstory to the "brave anti-spending Republicans smacked down by craven leadership" story connected to the loss of committee assignments by four Republicans known for bucking leadership in a more small-government, small-spending direction. (They are Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) from the House Budget Committee, Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) from Financial Services Committee.) I have blogged about one of the purged, Rep. Justin Amash, fighting back publicly yesterday and last week.

The new story? It isn't that the purged were too conservative; they were just uncollegial assholes. Politico's take:

In an interview with POLITICO, one member of the Steering Committee called them "the most egregious a—holes" in the House Republican Conference.

The argument: This went beyond voting records. The members who were booted made life harder for other Republicans by taking whacks at them in public for supporting the team, according to Republican sources familiar with the Steering Committee's decision…..

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a conservative who is close to party leaders, told them that "the a—hole factor" came into play in the Steering decision.

"He said that it had nothing to do with their voting record, a scorecard, or their actions across the street [meaning fundraising]," Westmoreland spokeswoman Leslie Shedd told POLITICO. "It had to do with their inability to work with other members, which some people might refer to as the a—hole factor."

Shedd said her boss didn't intend to call anyone a name and acknowledged later to her that "perhaps he should have said obstinate factor instead and wanted me to reiterate that he did not and would not call another member of Congress an a—hole."

Politico goes on to point out that booting from committees is a pretty nuclear option for House leadership in recent times:

these were the first members pulled off committees as punishment for political or personality reasons in nearly two decades. Even Tom DeLay, the fearsome majority leader known for hardball tactics, drew the line there.

More from Roll Call

[Rep. John] Fleming [(R-La.)] said…[it is] becoming more apparent that the members were removed for actions that constituted "friendly fire," or directing rhetorical barbs at members of their own party.

"There have been several members to stand up and say, 'You know, I kind of agree with leadership. You said some things that was a problem for me,'" he said. "There have been members and leadership who feel that it's one thing to vote and even message what you feel, but don't hurt your colleagues and don't hurt your leadership in doing that. In other words, don't go out and use other members who are supposed to be part of your army and make them the target of your rhetoric as well."

This "asshole" explanation isn't a distinct and different one from the "we were purged for being too serious about spending." It actually compounds the problem for those who are angry at leadership for a perceived lack of seriousness on spending.

This story says that, spending aside, actually trying to be a public voice pushing the party in a better direction on spending compounds the problem and makes you more worthy of being punished. It's not that "these are unpleasant people and bad colleagues and we don't want them around"; it's that they aren't just content to vote against bad stuff and then be quiet about it.

If the leadership thinks that this explanation is going to mollify the ideal Tea Party type who seriously see themselves as dedicated to making sure the Republican Party is good on spending issues, that seems highly unlikely. Such activists want their congressional champions to not only vote right, but to pressure their colleagues to do so as well. For those likely to care at all about the purged, the asshole factor is a feature, not a bug, as the kids on their computers say.

Amash and fellow purged Huelskamp talk about how they still have not had the exact reasons for their treatment explained to them, and more, on the radio with Sean Hannity. Some highlights from that: Amash says that his score on the still-mysterious scorecard used to judge and purge him by House leadership was, he was told by someone he won't name, a "zero." "Those who voted for more government were given positive scores," Amash believes. Amash says he's unhappy about the likely results of a leadership-approved tax and spending deal on the "fiscal cliff" negotations. 

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  1. There is something to be said about keeping things inside of the clubhouse. And of course it’s ultimately all about power. Smart people don’t charge right up the hill and into the cannons.

    1. Smart people don’t typically find themselves fighting their inept political mater’s war to begin with.

  2. Hey. The LP is already full of us assholes. The Fiscal Four would fit right in.

  3. Yes, they pretty much confirmed the spending theory. Essentially saying “They were assholes about spending. Why can’t they just go along to get along?”

    1. That was my read. The original story was that these guys were booted for being too hardline on spending cuts.

      The “counterstory” is that they were booted for, gee, not going along with the tax and spend plans of leadership? Oh, and being jerks about it.

      Sure. If every Congresshole who was a jerk got kicked off their committees, there wouldn’t be anyone on the committees.

      1. What the leadership is saying is that they kicked the four off for being “assholes” for saying bad things in public about Republicans.

        Which is an asshole move by leadership that consists of saying bad things in public about certain Republicans.

        The utter lack of irony burns.

  4. Amash I get. He’s the new “Dr. No.”

    Schweikert? He just beat Ben Quayle in a primary and romped to victory in the general with 62% of the vote. His district was held by a Democrat from 2007-2010. The guy is popular at Tea Parties for his fiscal conservatism, but he’s not an abrasive guy. I certainly wouldn’t call him an extremist or an “asshole.”

    We all know what congenial means: going along with party leadership even when they’re wrong.

  5. Nothing we’ve heard about the GOP establishment legislators lends any credence to the notion they want go-along-to-get-along types. Republican leadership wants strong and independent voices in its members because that internal opposition only makes the party’s positions stronger for having been internally deliberated.

    Now, vote how we tell you.

  6. Also,
    the Republican Party needs more assholes.

    1. They weren’t assholes. They were dicks. Their crime was they were fucking the assholes who wanted to shit over everything. The assholes will only tolerate pussies because a pussy will sit quietly next to the asshole and not get in the way.

      1. +1 anatomy lesson

      2. Winning.

        1. I think in a few centuries Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s works will be studied similarly to the way Shakespear’s stuff is studied now.

  7. I get it, the GOP has no room for fiscal conservatives. That’s what they’re hammering home. Neither, of course, does the other major party.

    1. Yes, it is telling that you don’t see any of the real batshit crazy SoCons (Bachmann, Gohmert, Paul Broun, Steve King) criticizing GOP leadership.

  8. I assumed “the asshole factor” was the unspoken requirement of committee membership that involved a late-night one-on-one meeting in Boehner’s office.

  9. the asshole factor is a feature, not a bug, as the kids on their computers say.

    Pretty sure only adults on computers say that.

    The kids say “I haz cheeseburger” or something similar.

    1. It’s “I can haz cheeseburger,” you geezer.

      1. Is anybody still interested in LOLcats?

        1. “Hello, this is Dog. F* you, cut spending.”

          1. The dog’s voice from this damn video is now a permanent part of my subconscious & is now how I picture my dog’s speaking voice

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAjM1pRIFP4

  10. The members who were booted made life harder for other Republicans by taking whacks at them in public for supporting the team

    So they admit there’s a team…

    I think if Lynn Westmoreland called me an asshole I would probably want to throw a party or something. A $60k tea party perhaps…

    1. I hate to admit he’s my rep. Ran uncontested again this year. 3rd time now! We would run someone against him but apparently not letting the GD QUEERS! GET GD MARRIED! IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON EARTH! GWAR ASS SEX…THE CHILDREN!

  11. While Speaker-Boner’s actions are execrable as always, they are understandable. After the Akin/Murdoch fiasco during this election season, the GOP is cracking the whip on “messaging” like they’ve never done before. Unsurprisingly, the message they’re planning on having is not one of limited govt after the electorate made abundantly clear they want no such thing in practice.

    1. That’s silly. The entire electorate said no such thing, and the House stayed in GOP hands, showing that it’s not some universal desire for goodies.

      The GOP needs to present an alternative to the Democrats beyond the name. Weakening the distinctions between the two parties won’t help them, and it most assuredly won’t help the country.

      1. Tulpa’s bizzarro explanation is laughable in the face of Boehner’s pathetic to non-existent message effort.

      2. The GOP also has a different flavor of xenophobia.

    2. The electorate showed they don’t want women paying for their birth control or put into rape camps by racist old men.

    3. Try harder.

      Neither Amash or Schweikert is going off the reservation on abortion the way Mourdock and Akin did. Amash was thought to be vulnerable because he’s a libertarian, but he won by a comfortable margin 53-44 margin against a strong opponent. Schweikert won handily as expected. If Boehner is worried about maintaining the GOP majority, he needs to look elsewhere.

    4. Yeah, they’re really cracking down on messaging, except on guys like Akin or Murdoch.

      1. Neither of those guys is in Congress, so how would they crack down on them?

        1. “like”

          He said like Akin or Murdoch. There are plenty of guys in congress LIKE them.

  12. The purpose of these committees is not to produce good legislation.

    Rather the purpose is to kill good legislation without having to actually vote against it.

    Seems that these misguided representatives actually thought they were supposed to do what most people think they do, instead of obeying the party leaders.

    Calling them assholes is an ad-hominem cop out.

  13. If we got rid of all the assholes in DC, there would be anarchy!

    Not a bad thing, from my perspective, but is this what the GOP wants? There’s no money for them in anarchy.

  14. …”he did not and would not call another member of Congress an a?hole.”…

    i agree. its far too dignified. i believe something more like, “soulless, rancid, shit-eating abominations and disgrace to the human race” is far more apropos. for all of them.

  15. Dark Helmet: Careful you idiot! I said across her nose, not up it!
    Laser Gunner: Sorry sir! I’m doing my best!
    Dark Helmet: Who made that man a gunner?
    Major Asshole: I did sir. He’s my cousin.
    Dark Helmet: Who is he?
    Colonel Sandurz: He’s an asshole sir.
    Speaker Boner: I know that! What’s his name?
    Whip McCarthy: That is his name sir. Asshole, Representative Asshole!
    Boner: And his cousin?
    McCarthy: He’s an asshole too sir. Budget Committee Ranking Member Philip Asshole!
    Boner: How many assholes do we have in this house, anyway?
    [Entire House of Representatives stands up and raises a hand]
    Entire House of Representatives: Yo!
    Boner: I knew it. I’m surrounded by assholes!
    [Boner slams his gavel down]
    Boner: Keep debating, assholes!

    1. OK, I totally screwed up that cut and paste. But you get the idea.

    2. Speaker Boner: Careful you idiot! I said slow down the spending, not cut it!
      Ways and Means Committee Member Asshole: Sorry sir! I’m doing my best!
      Boner: Who put that man on the ways and means committee?
      Representative Asshole: I did sir. He’s my cousin.
      Boner: Who is he?
      Whip McCarthy: He’s an asshole sir.
      Speaker Boner: I know that! What’s his name?
      Whip McCarthy: That is his name sir. Asshole, Representative Asshole!
      Boner: And his cousin?
      McCarthy: He’s an asshole too sir. Budget Committee Ranking Member Philip Asshole!
      Boner: How many assholes do we have in this house, anyway?
      [Entire House of Representatives stands up and raises a hand]
      Entire House of Representatives: Yo!
      Boner: I knew it. I’m surrounded by assholes!
      [Boner slams his gavel down]
      Boner: Keep debating, assholes!

  16. What a joke. Asshole = not letting us get on with ‘business’. Business meaning ‘loot and pillage’.

  17. What is the best way to go about convincing Amash to switch to the LP?

    1. Let Boehner keep talking.

  18. Just to be clear, the GOP believes that being puerile in addition to venal is the way they want to spin this?

    1. So they want to be absolutely clear that the Republicans are firmly behind the Democrats in not doing anything about out-of-control spending or the looming fiscal disaster(s).

  19. If the leadership thinks that this explanation is going to mollify the ideal Tea Party type who seriously see themselves as dedicated to making sure the Republican Party is good on spending issues, that seems highly unlikely.

    The so-called leadership of the republican party in the House, and the leadership of the party generally, simply do not care. They are sociopaths.

    The republican party must be destroyed.

    (Iggy, aka Sevo? What do you think?)

    1. While I agree, I’d like to see the Democrats go first, since they seem more dedicated to suicide, at least marginally.

    2. The trouble is that characteristics of leaders and those of psychopaths overlap.

  20. Who here voted GOP, again?

    1. I voted Conservative, but they cross-endorsed Republicans in most races.

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