After years of being the disciplined and unified minority, it’s unusual to see a Republicans fighting each other as they try to consolidate their power.
At the center of some of it is Rep. Michele Bachmann, who’s trying to get a leadership position that — let’s face it — few of us have heard of: GOP conference chair . But the job is not really the point. The point is about power and who gets it.
So far, Bachmann hasn’t got it and there’s some indication the people who currently have it don’t want her to get it.
A transition team was announced by party leaders today and Bachmann, who heads the Tea Party caucus, wasn’t on it.
“It’s pretty clear at this point that the Republican leadership is trying to keep its rowdier, Tea Party brethren at arms length,” the Washington Independent says. “Whether new Tea Party members of Congress defer to the established pecking order or openly challenge such an affront remains to be seen.”
One name who’s on the transition team jumps out: Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. He’s Bachmann’s competition for the “leadership position” for which she yearns.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post pulls a letter Bachmann sent to her colleagues today, which the Post blogger says isn’t particularly subtle:
During this election cycle and across the nation the American people have asked, “Will the new Republican majority reflect our values as they assume their position of leadership?” This is a critical question our Conference needs to answer.
Over the past four years, I have fought continually (and at some cost) for the principals of constitutional conservatism. I have successfully communicated this message in Washington and to the people we serve across America. In part, I have been highly targeted because I have been willing to challenge the Obama/Pelosi liberal establishment.
To our Conference I bring strong principled conservative values, a proven level of experience, effectiveness with our friends in the local and national media, and an energetic national constituency that reflects the results of Tuesday night. It is important that our Conference demonstrate to the people who sent us here that their concerns will be tirelessly advanced at the table of leadership.
The conservative Reason Magazine has a horse in the race:
In short, with the notable exception of his Medicare vote (a flaw shared by almost all of the Republican leaders who now claim to be budget cutters), Hensarling seems to be just the sort of legislator fiscal conservatives should want to see in a position of power. Assuming that the Tea Partiers’ preference for Bachmann, who seems not terribly bright and longer on rhetoric than action, is not merely a figment of her imagination, what good are they?
There’s not much more honest than the bared teeth of a party’s power fight.