Harper “expressed irritation with the House Freedom Caucus,” reported The Clarion-Ledger, after the caucus failed to support California Congressman Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House.
“We should move forward methodically and select someone who can unite 247 Republicans in order to battle this liberal president and not each other,’’ the 3rd District congressman told the newspaper. Harper also said he was proud to live in a state “where our people have common sense and are not misled by outside groups whose purpose is to raise money.”
Three days later Harper told The Meridian Star that the caucus had foolishly tried to derail the temporary funding bill that kept government from closing down on September 30.
“They wanted to stop it because of Planned Parenthood, but they had no real answer in how to go forward,” Harper said. “Secondly, the top Pro Life organization is National Right to Life and they said that this tactic would have set our movement back decades.”
For Harper to be outspoken about fellow Republicans is unusual. For him, such mild comments are equivalent to the strong indignation expressed by New York Times columnist David Brooks, who wrote:
“By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible.”
“All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party.”
“Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus,” he said. “These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed.”
Last month, conservative Congressman Tom McClintock of California resigned from the Freedom Caucus over its “unwilling to be governed” behavior.
“When the House Freedom Caucus formed in January, I fervently hoped that it would provide responsible and effective leadership to advance conservative principles in the House of Representatives,” McClintock wrote in his resignation letter. “But as I have expressed on many occasions during our meetings, I believe the tactics the HFC has employed have repeatedly undermined the House’s ability to advance them.”
Citing examples of missteps, McClintock wrote, “A common theme through each of these incidents is a willingness — indeed, an eagerness — to strip the House Republican majority of its ability to set the House agenda by combining with House Democrats on procedural motions. As a result, it has thwarted vital conservative policy objectives and unwittingly become Nancy Pelosi’s tactical ally.”
In advance of November elections last year, Congressman McCarthy told Politico, “I do know this, if we don’t capture the House stronger, and the Senate, and prove we could govern, there won’t be a Republican president in 2016.”
Freedom Caucus tactics undermine Republican efforts to govern. That’s got responsible congressmen like Gregg Harper perturbed.
» Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (firstname.lastname@example.org)