Editorial: Rep. Pence right; McCarthy ouster ‘a waste of time’

Rep. Greg Pence, R-Columbus, declined to join the crazy caucus of eight Republicans, led by the ethically challenged Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who joined House Democrats in voting in an unprecedented move to topple House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last week.

There was little doubt that Pence would vote as he did, choosing not to throw Congress into the chaos that Gaetz and his cohorts so craved and now own. But it was refreshing to see Pence criticize the uselessness and foolishness of his misguided, deceitful colleagues.

Pence “characterized the effort to oust the former speaker and select a new one as ‘a waste of time’ that ‘disrupts our ability to govern,’” The Republic’s Andy East reported last week.

“I voted to support Kevin McCarthy,” Pence said in a statement. “Ousting Speaker McCarthy and electing a new speaker is a waste of time when we have an upcoming deadline to pass appropriations bills. It disrupts our ability to govern and will only delay our efforts to pass conservative policies that will help Hoosiers and all Americans. Moving forward, I am hopeful that we will focus on lowering inflation, securing our southern border, regaining American energy dominance and fighting back against the Biden administration’s woke policies.”

Whether you agree with Pence’s politics or priorities, he deserves credit for pointing out nonsense instigated by troublemakers in his own party. It’s also wise politically for him to distance himself.

That said, everyone but McCarthy had to see this trainwreck coming. He sold out any semblance of authority in his position for the sole purpose of grasping the gavel. He traded concessions for the illusion of power in transactions involving no honest brokers.

The theater of the absurd continued last week when, after McCarthy’s ouster, people suggested without eye rolls that former President Donald Trump could be voted in as speaker.

Yet the events of the past several days, with Hamas launching unprecedented waves of terrorist attacks against Israelis, show the clear and present danger of leaving our people’s institution rudderless at a time of great international peril. Our nation cannot fully act because of political theatrics.

Speakers hold a revered but delicate and vital position. Whatever you may think of Newt Gingrich, Nancy Pelosi or other long-tenured speakers past, their ability to govern demonstrates that they understood the job requires compromise with members of your own party and, at least sometimes, with members of the party across the aisle. McCarthy never comprehended that. He didn’t even comprehend how to count votes in his own caucus.

Even so, members of his own party who chose to oust him at this time committed a venal and vindictive act of pure malice. They put the country in imminent danger of a government shutdown, potential default or worse that could have devastating consequences for all Americans. We suspect Gaetz’s chaos agents root for those things, too.

Rep. Pence was right to criticize McCarthy’s ouster. We dare to dream that he and other Republicans — and maybe some Democrats — will put our country first will reject the politics of chaos and coalesce around a speaker candidate who can attract enough bipartisan support to actually make Congress work.

The (Columbus) Republic is a sister newspaper to the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].