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The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses

A House Divided
• James Campion
Who The Hell Wants To Be Speaker of the House?

You may have heard that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the second most powerful post in the United States government, John Boehner has quit. For the first time in the 226 years of the U.S. Congress a speaker is resigning without either getting a better gig or being kicked out.


Usually this type of job is a keeper and those who are fortunate enough to secure it hang onto it like grim death. So then the question remains; why did Boehner walk away from this austere position – incidentally whilst joyfully singing “Zippity Doo Dah” – offering no real explanation beyond repeatedly stating “It’s time.”

There was some talk immediately following the news that it had something to do with the Pope’s visit, which is nice, but goofy. The other less goofy one was his not having the votes to be re-elected, which turned out to be false as it was the previous times this was broached. Another theory revolved around the more extreme Right Wing of his caucus threatening to shut down the government again over the funding of Planned Parenthood under what could only be described by people with a grasp of the facts as anti-abortion falderal. And although that one turned out to also be less than the truth for now, there was a kernel of it in there.

While Boehner, who vehemently denied there was ever any real motivation to defend PP or at least to halt the entire running of the people’s business over a $500 million purse, the very notion of this political suicide is symptomatic of his tenure as speaker. Since the 2010 TEA Party insurgence into congress, the second Republican wave in less than 20 years that put him in charge, Boehner has become the least effective speaker ever. This is not high school hyperbole like “This is the worst tragedy ever!” or “Worst president ever!”, but fact. The 112th through the 114th versions of our legislative branch has done less in its allotted time to govern than any other before.

Boehner’s biggest issue was with the so-called Freedom Caucus of about 50 for whom the idea of governing is an anathema, which I am not willing to deride since that is the reason they were sent to Washington by voters; to halt the march of big government and curtail the tyrannical rule of Monarch Obama and his Muslim hordes. And if that is why they are there, then one has to applaud their gusto, for it has been the sad storyline for centuries that members of congress are elected on some platform they have no intention of forwarding or their ideas are crushed within the first year in D.C and they become part of the very problem they were elected to solve.

However, as the speaker has recently stated on his “I’m going to bury everyone who screwed me” tour recently, the members of the Freedom Caucus promised stuff that they cannot deliver on and thus he is straddled with the anger and disappointment of an easily gullible electorate that believes shutting down the government, filibustering or taking empty votes would somehow override a second-term president without veto-proof control of the U.S. Senate – basic eighth grade civics most Americans who yell and scream and about things they don’t understand, like the Constitution, should know is impossible.
This is why over fifty-percent of the Republican primary polls insist on a presidential candidate with no political background – a doctor, a failed CEO, and a TV star; all promising crazy things that cannot be accomplished under the current structure of U.S. law. And this is precisely why this week Boehner’s proposed replacement, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy removed his name from consideration in front of a stunned and angry gaggle of Republican congressmen and then told the Nation Review that conservative members wanted things they couldn’t deliver and maybe the party has to hit rock bottom before things improve.

McCarthy is an interesting failure here, mainly because in 2010 he was one of the leading recruiters of the very people he is now calling out for scuttling his chance at speaker. More than anyone in congress he led the charge, financially and otherwise, to bring in candidates with little to no experience in governing, compromise or debate in the structure set up by the third incarnation of our Continental Congress in 1789.
Of course this seemed dubious to members of the press and as rumors swirled of an alleged affair haunting McCarthy, word began to leak that it was actually moderate Republicans, or at least not those in the intransigent Freedom Caucasus, who began hectoring McCarthy to step aside after he unconscionably told a national FOX News audience that the entire Benghazi Investigative Committee (what is it now eight or nine versions now?) was a secret Republican plot to besmirch former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her bid for president, which unintendedly reinvigorated her stumbling campaign and pretty much neutered the whole idea of the thing.

This chaos has predictably further emboldened the Freedom Caucasus, who spent two days leaking notions that McCarthy was not conservative enough and did not have the stomach to bury the government over Planned Parenthood or any other election year craziness that might come up, which certainly means John Boehner, seemingly a socialist hippie to them, would have zero support to hang on until another “suitable” candidate arises. And so now a man for whom this gig became untenable is stuck for the foreseeable future, which includes another debt-ceiling fight and budget vote on December 11.
A panicked Boehner reached out to former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to save the day. Ryan, one of the brightest and most stable of Republican legislators to this point has no interest in dooming his political career taking a thankless job in which he will be publically flogged by half-witted dreamers. And while Ryan is an admitted Ayn Rand political theorist, (Rand makes the Freedom Caucus look like a Liberal think-tank) he is first and foremost a pragmatist, and this is no climate for such an animal.
And so who wants to be speaker of the house? Who wants to be two heartbeats from the president and lord over the making of law and handling a multi-trillion dollar national budget? Who wants to lead the leaderless and deal with a president who does not have to be re-elected?


Mr. Campion,

I think it is important to point out the inaccuracies in our political discourse and you do it with great pleasure, it would seem. However, your rabid attack on this completely fabricated outrage over Planned Parenthood that not only threatens to shut down the federal government, but has lead to complete chaos in congress is as good as it gets and much needed. (PLANNED PARENTHOOD & MADE UP SHIT – Issue: 8/12/15)
I too like you have no interest in this story. I do not use Planned Parenthood, obviously as a man, and I actually do not support abortion. But I also do not own a gun and will never own a gun, but support the second amendment. I hate smoking and pretty much cannot tolerate smokers, but I am one of the few who think these laws against smoking in every corner of society are overkill.
It is always easy for people to get behind something with no teeth when it has no interest to them personally. But it is impossible for me to believe that after the preponderance of evidence that these supposed horrible “videos” that FOX News has been playing over and over were nothing but the propaganda wing of an anti-abortion group filled with lies, exaggerations and exploiting wayward employees, all of whom should be fired, that anyone with a brain would continue to believe it. They want to believe it, sure, but it does not make it true.
I am appalled that congress is spending more money “investigating” this than it would cost to fund half of it.
Thanx for your voice, the voice of truth and reason.

Adam S.

The best thing you e written in a while. Good stuff.

Peter Blasevick

The problem with these Planned Parenthood protests is that there is Google now. It is harder and harder for people to snow the public if the public would just use the tools available to it. Once I saw the videos, which were disturbing, I immediately went to Google, typed in the controversy and saw all the real information about it, went on the Planned Parenthood site and discovered what was actually happening, which is all legal, and then went about my business. Now my life and my government has to be interrupted by senators who assume we have no access to information, as if this was the 1950s and McCarthy was still running around just making shit up (as you wrote so beautifully) and a bunch of scared, uninformed people are lapping it up like lemmings.
Google people, ever heard of it?

Meredith Pinckney

I need to ask everyone this, seriously; unless you are religious, and maybe married and some kind of throw-back, old-fashioned apron-wearing, curler queen, why in the world if you are a woman you would ever, EVER consider voting for a Republican. This Planned Parenthood thing is off-the-charts asinine. I am embarrassed to just listen to it, much less believe it is even an issue. Abortion is legal and has been for over forty years, no one in either party has any gusto to over-turn Roe V Wade, Planned Parenthood assists millions of women with 90 percent of other issues beyond abortion and there is a legal framework in place to use discarded tissue for research that is helping millions others with so many different diseases and it is all done with the written consent of the parents, SO WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE ASSHOLES DOING BUT TRYING TO ATTACK WOMEN???
Anyone have an answer for this?
I rest my case.
Go Hillary!

Dana Moales

Hi James,

I don’t think we need to wait for your thrilling expose on your Trump position. (MEDIA, MONEY & DONALD TRUMP – Issue: 8/26/15) You are most probably (based on how I read this column) going to mock him and not take him seriously. You will do so at your own peril. Trump is the guy we have been waiting for. Rich enough that he doesn’t need the lobbyist or the K Street dollars. Bold enough that he doesn’t care what some $45,000 a year pundit on CNN thinks of him and Confident enough to know that he is speaking what a large number of the American population have been waiting to hear. Washington IS the problem, the politicians ARE stupid and America CAN be great again. We long for the days when a Ronald spoke of the shining city on the hill and people flocked to him and made him one of our most beloved presidents.
You want to know why Trump is faring so well? Go into a blue collar pub or tavern and listen to the people. The clothes may be different, they may not travel in a private jet but they sound just like Trump on the campaign trail. Illegal immigration is wrong, Washington is an immoral cesspool and we are going broke because of dunderheads. Trump is not just expressing a view, he is validating it.
Trump isn’t going anywhere. The Mainstream Media took their best shot at him and fell short. Mr. Trump has a very good chance of being the GOP nominee.
Oh and one last thing…you tried to call this a circus and mocked him by making him out as a circus barker but the fact is, he is the ONLY candidate of either party talking specifics. The dude changed the game by being specific on immigration. There was no “come see the dog faced boy inside the tent” shit…he told you right where he was coming from. Rather than the circus barker, he was the pitcher who told the batter, “I am going to throw heat right down Broadway, let’s see if you have the stones to hit it”.

Bill Roberts

While I think your point is right on about how Trump is merely some kind of media creation to keep people watching political stuff as a reality show idea in a time when it is usually dark, I also think that Trump’s surge and his sustaining such a surge is based on the volume of candidates. And I don’t necessarily think it has to do with there just being enough in the field to make a polling at 25 percent a leader to represent a major political party for the presidency, but because everyone else in the field just looks like carbon copies; angry senators, tough-guy governors and people who are outside government with half of Trump’s media appeal and monstrous personality.
But I think it is quite obvious to us all that the media has grossly over-hyped this, unless you are Donald Trump who on the one hand abuses the media by agreeing to be on every show at every minute of the day and then picks on it as an entity when it the coverage doesn’t go his way. He’s like a child, and the coverage, the popularity (such as it is) and his entire existence speaks to the child in us. We need to be told what to do, we need to be excited by waving hands and name-calling, and we need to be told things we want to hear even though there is little to no chance we will ever get them. And we like bright, shiny things that distract us from boredom.

© James Campion Oct 16th 2015

Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at

James Campion is the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. His new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” is out now
Shout It Out Loud
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