Here’s a fun timeline:

  • According to the Washington Post, someone posted the following comment on Rep. Mark Meadows’s Facebook page last week:“Keep up the great work! We the people thank you for ridding us of John Boehner!”
  • On October 20th, Paul Ryan laid down his conditions for running for Speaker of the House. Among them was the support of the House Freedom Caucus, of which Mark Meadows is a member.
  • The next day, October 21st, the Associated Press released the results of a poll that show Republicans—and especially conservative Republicans—strongly prefer leaders (including a new House Speaker) who will put conservative principles ahead of compromise, even if it means shutting down the federal government.
  • Later that same day, the House Freedom Caucus announced that a majority—but not the supermajority required for an official endorsement—would support Ryan for Speaker of the House.
  • The following day, October 22nd, Paul Ryan officially declared his intention to seek the role of Speaker of the House, secure with the backing of the Freedom Caucus, thought to be the toughest get among his few conditions.
  • Earlier today, Mark Meadows was quoted in the Washington Times on the topic of working with Paul Ryan on some remaining conditions that rankle conservative members of the House GOP:
  • “Chairman Ryan is working with us to see how we can address that particular issue. But to change something century-old for a speaker election today doesn’t seem like those two fit together. And I think that reasonable minds can come together and find a path forward.”

  • Just hours later, the Washington Post reported the following comments on Freedom Caucus members’ Facebook pages*: “You truly should be ashamed” and “[you are] another go-along to get along phony who will GLADLY step on the throats of the Conservative electorate.”

Here are some things that are true: conservative Republicans at ground level are not fucking around about putting conservative principles ahead of compromise; House GOP conservatives in the Freedom Caucus manifestly do not give a shit about constituents who “feel that Washington does not represent them.” One of these two groups is facing an ugly reality check about the nature of American democracy.

This Post report is great. It details the extent to which party-fueled media pandering and shit-stirring have gotten far beyond the grasp of the GOP establishment, and perhaps even that of its conservative factions. Print and online media and (especially) conservative radio are beating the drum on Ryan’s lack of far-right credentials even while his ascension to House Speaker is virtually assured. This guy’s gonna be a Boehner-like enemy of the right the very moment he takes the job!

On the Internet, sites such as and the Drudge Report have pumped out a steady stream of anti-Ryan stories casting doubt on his record, while such prominent commentators as Erick Erickson, Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus have sharpened their teeth and urged conservatives to contact lawmakers and tell them to spurn Ryan.


Laura Ingraham last week called Ryan “basically John Boehner with better abs” and featured segment after segment attacking Ryan’s positions on trade and immigration. She also mocked his desire to spend his weekends with his family.


And the biggest conservative talker of them all, Rush Limbaugh, on Thursday called Ryan a favorite of the Republican “donor class” and “the new Cantor” — a reference to former House majority leader Eric Cantor, who was ousted last year in a GOP primary.

The report quotes conservative host Mark Levin urging the party to choose a Speaker of the House from outside the House of Representatives. This is allowed, but it has never happened in the history of the position. Maybe it’s time!

Ryan, for his part, made the enormous mistake of using the term “common-sense conservative agenda” in a letter to colleagues meant to unite and rally the party around his candidacy. You can imagine how that kind of posturing has gone over with Tea Party types:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said calls to his office were running 2 to 1 against Ryan, but he said passions were at “a much lower level” than after he voted for Boehner in January.

Asked Thursday if he expects pitchforks back home, Buck said he did not: “I’m the guy with the pitchfork.”

Conservative House Republicans: protecting themselves from pitchforks by wielding pitchforks against their party’s leadership, before said leadership even takes office. May this circus never end.

[Washington Post]

Photo via AP