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Knuckle-draggers? Insulting the right
“He's a practical conservative. He's got a very conservative voting record, but he's not a knuckle-dragger, all right?”
That is the grudging compliment House Speaker John Boehner bestowed on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan a few days ago when interviewed by Greta Van Susteren of FOX News. Boehner then twisted the knife, making it clear that the 90 members of the GOP who stood with him and most Democrats in support of the unprecedented 2008 TARP bailout were the “practical” ones.
In other words, any fiscal conservatives who respect the 108 Republicans who did not embrace his controversial $700 billion deal are not merely impractical, but Neanderthals.
Nice work, Mr. Speaker. When given a chance to boost your most important colleague, you instead damned him with faint praise while insulting most of the Republicans who served with you in 2008. Your office later attempted to cover up your candor by assuring the press that “he does not believe tea partiers are knuckle-draggers.” That won't work.
In the last election, dozens of grass-roots Republican conservatives were elected to the House. They have urged their leadership to show more backbone on tax and spending issues. Although Boehner continues to rebuff them, Ryan has won their trust as budget chair.
We have seen more than enough of Boehner's ineffectiveness in the current era of economic crisis and partisan strife. After the election, Republicans need to replace him with a proven fiscal conservative. We hope that Paul Ryan becomes vice president next January. But if the GOP ticket does not win, he would make a fine House speaker.
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