U.S. Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL) arrives for a Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 9, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
The first thing we need to know, says Paul Krugman in the New York Times, is that the "modern Republican Party is a post-policy enterprise, which doesn't do real solutions to real problems."
And, says Mr. Krugman, that poses a real problem for pundits and commentators who "really, really don't want to face up to that awkward reality."
Journalists have been taught for years that they should provide "balance" to their reporting, and some of them continue to do so now even though one party, the Republican Party, has completely gone off the tracks. Imagine, we once called it the Grand Old Party.
There are, of course, and thankfully, exceptions. E.J. Dionne, a veteran pundit, showed his mettle the same day Mr. Krugman was grumpily deriding pundits. For Republicans, Dionne said, "governing with Obama means furthering the collapse of the republic."
Once upon a time, there were sensible leaders in the Republican Party, even if some of them seemed just a tad dull. They cared about legislation. They worked and even socialized from time to time with the Democrats. They were patriots working for the "common good."
Now, they all seem crazy, even Kevin McCarthy from California, the House majority leader who shocked his colleagues by declaring he didn't want to succeed John Boehner as speaker. In a book he published in 2010 entitled "Young Guns," he wrote, "Who would have thought America could be going the way it's going now? With government taking over businesses? With government taking over health care?" The goal, he said, was "unshackling the grip that Washington has on so much of our lives."
Not good enough. Tea Party and Freedom Caucus hard-liners rejected Mr. McCarthy because they didn't think he was conservative enough. The man the Freedom Caucus put forward as their choice to be the next speaker was a congressman from Florida named, of all things, Daniel Webster.
The celebrated Daniel Webster (1782-1852), a "thoroughgoing elitist," according to one of his biographers, was a brilliant congressman and senator from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He is often listed as one of the Senate's most accomplished members.
Florida's Daniel Webster (he claims he's distantly related to the great man) and his wife, Sandy, home-schooled their six children based on the teaching of Bill Gothard and his Institute in Basic Life Principles (Bible memorization, home schooling. large families, conservative dress, and respect for authority). In his 28 years in the Florida legislature, Mr. Webster's major initiative was passage of legislation legalizing home schooling.
He's a Ramblin' Wreck from his alma mater, Georgia Tech. Sometimes, it seems, he and his colleagues are all Ramblin' Wrecks.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.