Real Clear Politics
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, at age 38 and having served less than five terms, did not leap over a dozen of his seniors to become ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee by bashing GOP leaders. But an angry Ryan last Wednesday delivered unscripted remarks on the House floor as the farm bill neared passage: "This bill is an absence of leadership. This bill shows we are not leading."
Ryan's fellow reformer, 45-year-old Jeff Flake of Arizona, in his fourth term, is less cautious about defying the leadership and has been kept off key committees. On Wednesday, he said of a $300 billion bill that raises farm subsidies and is filled with non-farm pork, "Sometimes, here in Washington, we tend to drink our own bath water and believe our own press releases."
A majority of both Senate and House Republicans voted for a bill that raises spending 44 percent above last year's, dooming chances to sustain President Bush's promised veto. GOP leaders were divided, with Bush sounding an uncertain trumpet. Today's Republican Party -- divided, drifting, demoralized -- is epitomized by the farm bill.