So Tom DeLay is gone and the GOP needs a new House Majority Leader. It's a plum job that not just anyone can do. The basic responsibility of the job is to organize votes to pass the legislation your party wants to support. That means you've got to have some time on the hill, some deal making and even arm-twisting skill and enough personality to hold the occasional press conference and not get laughed at.
The GOP has almost 300 Congressmen to pick from, so they ought to be able to come up with some truly outstanding candidates to replace DeLay. I bet they have some guys with real charisma and great original ideas to guide the House on to new and better things. Surely their new Majority Leader will be their best and brightest. Right?
Well, apparently there's a dearth of great leaders among the hundreds of Republicans in Congress, because all they could find were three uniquely undistinguished clones: John Boehner (OH), Roy Blunt (MO) and John Shadegg (AZ).
Boehner and Blunt are so similar on the issues that if you compare their ratings from different interest groups they are literally within 5 or fewer percentage points on every issue and usually rated exactly the same. They both get a 20 from the NEA, a 92 from the NRA, 100 from Americans for Tax Reform, 0 from the ACLU and a -3 from NORML. But excitingly, on the Liberty Index from the Republican Liberty Caucus they are a dramatic 3 points apart. Boehner has a 69 average and Blunt has a 66. Both have a good number of terms under their belt. Boehner has 8 and Blunt has 5. Both have basically the same positions on major issues. They're for the Iraq War, against abortion, against eminent domain seizures and for the Bush tax cuts. Boehner's recent pet issues are education and protecting pensions. Blunt's pet issue is agriculture. Both candidates also received substantial contributions from controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The big differences between these two virtual clones are in their backgrounds more than their voting records. Boehner's from the north and Blunt's from the south. Boehner is a Catholic (very fashionable right now) and Blunt is a Baptist (always suspect). Boehner is chairman of the Education Committee and Vice Chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Blunt holds no legislative committee positions, but he's Majority Whip which means he's acting Majority Leader right now and sort of puts him on deck for the job if things were actually done that way. In fact, only two Majority Whips have become Majority Leader in the last 100 years.