About a month ago, we learned that “behind-the-scenes fighting” between the offices of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner had grown so intense, senior aides had to organize a “truce.”
The fact that such a step was even necessary seems rather bizarre – the Speaker’s office and Majority Leader’s office, as a rule, should not be at war with one another – and reinforces the perception that House Republicans aren’t exactly ready for prime time when it comes to governing in the midst of trying times.
As it turns out, however, Cantor aides haven’t just been engaged in an ongoing conflict with Boehner aides; they’ve also been clashing with one another.
The sudden departure of trusted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor aide Brad Dayspring late last week followed a heated, nearly physical confrontation with another senior Cantor staffer over the unveiling of a major GOP initiative.
The dramatic exit of Dayspring – one of the House Republican Conference’s savviest and most controversial operatives – came after a clash with another top Cantor aide, Mike Ference, over the rollout of a jobs bill that’s set to hit the floor this week.
The legislative conflict was over a jobs bill, and Cantor’s office failed effort to generate Democratic support. But the dramatic story is over the intra-party conflict among Republican staffers, including this case, in which Dayspring and Ference reportedly nearly got “into a physical altercation.”
Politico’s report added, “This dustup is only the most recent closed-door clash among House Republican leadership. There have been numerous disagreements between aides and members over issues such as the debt ceiling, government funding and the payroll tax holiday.”
The larger point to all of this isn’t just a clash of personalities; it’s that the House Republican leadership appears to be so dysfunctional, we haven’t seen anything like it since House GOP members tried to launch a coup against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in the late 1990s.
The takeaway from all of this is simple: it’s a caucus lacking leadership. There’s no grown-up in the room, offering the caucus guidance and a steady hand.
We talked last week about the fact that rank-and-file House Republicans no longer feel like there’s anyone in charge in the chamber, and there’s no shortage of evidence to bolster the thesis.