Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole (shown), a devoted ally of House Speaker John Boehner, used his appearance on Fox News Sunday this past weekend to launch a blistering attack on Boehner’s conservative detractors. He reserved his harshest words for Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), after Cruz’s joyous reaction to the speaker’s resignation.
Cole called Cruz’s comments about Boehner “classless and tasteless and counterproductive.”
Though Cruz was not alone in celebrating the fall of Boehner, because he is a presidential candidate, his remarks naturally have received greater press coverage. Many House conservatives have for some time been unhappy with their speaker, prompting Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to ask Cole the reason for that disenchantment.
Rather than acknowledging any legitimate complaints about Boehner, Cole instead chose to attack Cruz, declaring. “This is a guy that for 25 years had a distinguished record in the House — I’m talking about Boehner, certainly not talking about Senator Cruz — again, who got real tax cuts, real spending reductions, real entitlement reform in divided government.”
Cole made it clear that Cruz was not the lone target of his acidic remarks, telling Wallace that he would stack Boehner’s “record of accomplishment up against any of these people who are being critical of him.”
“What have they [Boehner’s critics] done? Nothing," he insisted.
These remarks are instructive in understanding the divide between the more moderate Establishment Republicans, such as Cole, and Boehner’s more conservative critics.
Boehner has long feuded with the conservative grassroots of the Republican Party, which have been growing increasingly impatient with his failure, for whatever reason, to win any conservative victories during his tenure as speaker. While Cruz and others have attempted to defund liberal government programs such as ObamaCare, Boehner, Cole, and others like them have chosen to simply give in on the issues, claiming that they just cannot win against the Democrats.
As the constitutionalist John Birch Society stated this past week following Boehner’s resignation and upcoming departure from Congress, “It’s business as usual with Boehner. He has already declared that the government will not be shut down during this week’s fight to pass a continuing budget resolution to temporarily fund the federal government at present levels, without any changing in the funding of Planned Parenthood.”
So what had Senator Cruz done to so inflame Cole?
Cruz won the straw poll of presidential candidates at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, taking 35 percent of the votes cast by those attending the three-day summit, putting him ahead of second-place finisher Dr. Ben Carson at 18 percent and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at 14 percent.
Cruz told the conference,
There’s a frustration across this country. It’s not complicated to understand why. Every election Republicans promise to fight for American principles, and then the day after the election we come to Washington and we don’t fight for any of the principles we said we’d fight for.
We’ve had Republican majorities in both houses of Congress coming up on a year now, and what on Earth have they accomplished?
Clearly, this is why conservatives are frustrated. Despite winning huge congressional elections in 2010 and 2014 — and now boasting the largest majority Republicans have enjoyed in the House of Representatives since before the Great Depression — all the great victories still seem to go to Democratic President Obama and congressional Democrats.
Senator Cruz declared that Boehner has already “cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to fund the Obama administration for the rest of its tenure, to fund ObamaCare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, to fund implementation of this Iran deal and then presumably land in a cushy K Street [where many lobbyists are headquartered] job after joining with the Democrats to implement all of President Obama’s priorities. That is not the behavior one would expect of the Republican Speaker of the House.”
Apparently, however, it is the behavior that Congressman Cole expects and endorses from a Republican Speaker of the House.
Cole is typical of those more “pragmatic” Republicans in Congress who supported Boehner. Ironically, the Freedom Index of The New American magazine shows Boehner and Cole with identical scores of only 52 percent (of votes in line with the Constitution). Cole supported the National Cybersecurity Protection Act, which amended the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to expand the role of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration. Michigan Congressman Justin Amash has stated that the bill’s provisions clearly violate the Fourth Amendment.
Cole also voted against an amendment which proposed to prohibit any funding for transferring excess military equipment (including drones, grenade launchers, and armored vehicles) to local police departments. The result of such transfers is to make local police departments increasingly dependent upon the federal government, ultimately leading to nationalization of local law enforcement.
Some of Cole's other positions raise questions about either his understanding of, or devotion to, the principle of national sovereignty. When the World Trade Organization (WTO) demanded that Congress repeal the Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) law, Cole and Boehner were among those members of Congress who meekly went along. The law required beef, chicken, and pork sold in the United States be labeled with the country of origin, which would leave consumers free to decide whether to buy such meat. But the WTO objected to this law, and Boehner and Cole joined with a majority of Congress to abolish COOL.
Cole also followed Boehner in support of giving the president “fast track authority” in trade negotiations with his endorsement of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This bill is an unconstitutional delegation of congressional authority to the executive branch “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.”
These votes illustrate why grassroots conservatives in Congress were more than ready for Boehner to go. It is not surprising for the Democratic Party — led by the likes of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Harry Reid — to increase the power of the federal government at the expense of the states, diminish American national sovereignty, and increase the clout of a Democrat president.
But what has frustrated so many genuine constitutionalists is that the Republican leadership in the Congress — led by Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Boehner allies such as Tom Cole — has either rolled over for the liberals in Congress, or actually joined with the Democrats in advancing Democrat causes.
While Boehner greatly frustrated and angered the conservative grassroots of the Republican Party, he won praise from liberal columnists such as Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who commended him for his attempts to be more “pragmatic,” but lamented that he was “tugged” by the Republican caucus “toward extremism.”
Boehner expressed similar sentiments toward his conservative opponents, referring to them as “false prophets.”
Perhaps Michael Needham, CEO of the conservative Heritage Action for America, best summed up the problem faced by conservatives in his appearance on Fox News Sunday, when he asserted, “We need a Republican leadership that is showing conservative values. That’s not what we’ve had.”
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