An embarrassing speaker?

As Speaker Boehner has resigned a piece looks at the candidates to replace him and the potential foreign policy implications of this, “as foreign policy looms large over the GOP presidential race, foreign affairs and homeland security are increasingly taking center stage in another pivotal and closely-watched Republican showdown: The battle to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House. The one time presumptive favourite House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R.-Calif.) recently pledged to make defence his “top” priority if elected speaker and has sought to burnish his foreign policy credentials criticizing the Obama administration’s current approach to Iran, Syria, and more. So far, though, McCarthy’s foreign-policy forays have done little to bolster his image”.

The piece goes on to note “He boasted that House oversight investigations into the deadly consulate attacks in Benghazi, Libya, had taken a political toll on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner in the Democratic race for president. That sent the House Republican caucus into an uproar, since it has always maintained that the investigations were non-political; many colleagues condemned McCarthy’s comments and demanded an apology, which he eventually provided. Leading the pack is the man running against McCarthy for the most powerful job in the lower chamber: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R.-Utah). He wasted no time in defending the Benghazi investigations and lambasting McCarthy. It was an “absolutely inappropriate statement,” he told CNN. “That was not the reason we started. We started because there were four dead Americans and we didn’t have answers,” he said”.

Not surprisingly the author adds “McCarthy, not known as gifted extemporaneous speaker, tried to hammer his favourite foreign-policy talking points in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, who has become an unintentional mine field for Republicans. McCarthy jumbled together criticisms of the Iran deal, the threat of terrorism, and the force level of the U.S. Army in a confused answer to why he wants to prioritize defense if he wins the Speaker’s job”.

Hilariously the article continues “Republican strategist Ed Rogers is worried about McCarthy’s “verbal bumbling or embarrassing ignorance,” as he wrote last week, saying that Republicans better brace themselves for his gaffes if he is elected. Late last month, McCarthy also delivered his ”foreign policy vision” to the John Hay Initiative, a conservative organization that grooms Republican politicians on the finer points of speaking about foreign policy. In the short speech, he reiterated standard criticisms of the national security failures over the past six years”.

This is contrasted when the piece notes “As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz has been more concerned with Homeland Security than events overseas. He has been one of the most vocal critics of the Transportation Security Administration and the security measures put in place in the wake of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He also recently expressed concern over terrorists hiding among the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East. But most famously, Chaffetz has wrangled with another part of the Department of Homeland Security: the Secret Service. As head of the oversight panel, Chaffetz led the investigations into the Secret Service’s numerous and well-publicized security failures, the most serious of which was a man jumping the White House fence and entering the building last fall. In apparent reprisal, the agency decided to use Chaffetz’s own application to join the Secret Service in 2003 against him”.

The piece ends “While the two men battle it out for votes on the House floor, the window for campaigning is closing fast. House Republicans will vote by secret ballot on Thursday, followed by a full floor vote later in the month”.


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