Monday, February 06, 2006

Novak Credits Souder For Swaying Vote For Boehner

Robert Novak credits two unliked, outsiders for swaying the House GOP caucus vote against Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and towards Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) for the House Majority Leader position. According to Novak's "inside" account, Blunt was confident he had the votes to win, but what Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) had to say ended it for Blunt. As Novak calls it:

The speeches by Thomas and Souder built concern that Blunt's election would signal that Republicans really want nothing to change. Blunt would have continued the promotion from within for Republican leadership of a select circle of insiders intimately connected to the K Street lobbyist community. Blunt's campaign exuded an aura of entitlement, especially when he declined to appear with his opponents on Sunday televised interview programs.

Novak describes Souder in less than flattering terms. He says:

Souder, a back-bench bomb thrower for 11 years, suggested that the election of Blunt could ratify the Democratic indictment of the GOP as the party of corruption . . . Souder can claim even fewer friends in Congress than Thomas. An ardent conservative and evangelical Christian, Souder has been a hair shirt for GOP leaders since his election in the famous Class of '94. His nominating speech for Rep. John Shadegg, running for majority leader on a platform of conservative reform, moved his colleagues. "If these elections come back with the same top leadership," Souder declared, "we will be telling the American people that we have not changed -- that the rest of the world has shifted, but we have not."

"Whether the reform advocated in Souder's speech is realized under Boehner is another matter," Novak concludes. Based upon Boehner's debut performance as Majority Leader this weekend, which we reported on earlier, much-needed reform is not likely to be achieved under his leadership.

It should be pointed out that Souder never asked anyone to support Boehner, just Shadegg, who lost on the first ballot with 40 votes; however, the vast majority of Shadegg's votes went to Boehner on the second ballot.

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