Walter Jones Is Right: Moral Standards Matter in Speaker’s Race

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Walter Jones, Congressman from North Carolina’s 3rd district for the past 20 years, in a letter to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, called on candidates for leadership to withdraw if aware of “any misdeeds” likely to embarrass the House.  His office characterized these “misdeeds” as “moral turpitude issues,” but he seemed to have marital infidelity particularly in mind.  Two days later, Kevin McCarthy withdrew from the Speaker’s race.

Good for Jones.  Why shouldn’t the Republican Speaker of the House be held to a standard of marital fidelity?  The old bromide is that personal behavior has nothing to do with one’s official duties — and that such a standard would have deprived the country of the services of John Kennedy as president.  But then Seymour Hersh’s “The Dark Side of Camelot” reveals that Kennedy’s dalliances put national security at considerable risk.

In January of 1989, George H. W. Bush nominated John Tower as Secretary of Defense.  This nomination was opposed by Paul Weyrich, one of the most morally serious men ever to participate in the political mosh pit of Washington.

Weyrich told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “It is unrealistic to expect moral behavior in matters of public trust from someone who does not exhibit such behavior in his personal life.  Private morals have public effects.”  The Tower nomination was defeated on the floor of the Senate, the first in 30 years.

Paul Weyrich later reflected on his opposition to Tower (and I am paraphrasing here): “time and again I have been told, ‘this man may be flawed, but he’s our flawed guy.’  I have found that flawed people never end up doing a thing for the conservatives who put them there.”

So thank you, Mr. Continue Reading

Boehner Out as Speaker

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Speaker John Boehner made headlines this morning by making a surprise announcement: he will be retiring from Congress at the end of October.

More from The New York Times:

Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, will resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, throwing Congress into chaos as it tries to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Boehner, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.

The Ohio representative struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members.

It will be interesting to see who replaces Boehner. Will it be an establishment pick? Or will it be someone from the more conservative caucus of the Republican Party?

Early last week, The Hill reported that many House conservatives were “warming” to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker. The Hill also reported that there would almost certainly be a vote to oust Speaker Boehner this fall. One might speculate that Boehner may have resigned as a way to avoid an embarrassing vote of no confidence from his colleagues.

Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for American Principles in Action. Continue Reading