Tony Perkins / Oct. 30, 2015

The Man of the House

Plenty of important things happened in 1869 — Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated, the first college football game was held, even *War and Peace* was published. It was also the last time America had a Speaker of the House as young as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). At 45, the Wisconsin dad won’t just be putting a new face on the GOP, but an energetic one. Of course, what the former VP candidate lacks in age, he more than makes up for in experience. As the Washington Post points out, he’s logged 6,143 days in the House (only 1,000 less than John Boehner) — and he’ll need every bit of that practice to help pull Republicans out of the mire they find themselves in.

Plenty of important things happened in 1869 — Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated, the first college football game was held, even War and Peace was published. It was also the last time America had a Speaker of the House as young as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). At 45, the Wisconsin dad won’t just be putting a new face on the GOP, but an energetic one. Of course, what the former VP candidate lacks in age, he more than makes up for in experience. As the Washington Post points out, he’s logged 6,143 days in the House (only 1,000 less than John Boehner) — and he’ll need every bit of that practice to help pull Republicans out of the mire they find themselves in.

Fortunately, the debt ceiling deal, which Boehner intentionally negotiated away from Ryan, is all but settled after Wednesday’s vote. At the very least, that should give the 54th Speaker the fresh start his party was hoping for. Included in that fresh start, conservatives hope, is a greater emphasis on the party’s core values. It’s time to reinforce the three legs of the conservative stool — social, fiscal, and defense.

It’s a tall task, but not an impossible one. As Ryan challenged members, “We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated. If you have ideas, let’s hear them. A greater clarity between us can lead to a greater charity among us.” Striking a hopeful tone, he vowed, “We are not going to have a House that looks like it’s looked the last two years. We are going to move forward. We are going to unify. Our party has lost its vision and we are going to replace it with [one].”

In many ways, the party never lost its vision. Leadership just failed to grasp it. What the majority needs in Paul Ryan is someone who reflects the strong conservatism of the voters who put them there. “When Republicans can’t stay unified enough to provide 218 votes for their agenda,” the Wall Street Journal warned, “the result is not more conservative reform. It’s more leverage for more liberal government.” With a string of budget battles barreling down the tracks, the first tests of the Ryan era aren’t far off. They’re also in the Wisconsinite’s wheelhouse.

A well-respected fiscal voice, Speaker Ryan will have an opportunity to bring some sanity to the fire-wagon budgeting under John Boehner. For once, the GOP has the opportunity to respect the appropriations process and stop the last-minute gamesmanship that’s led to a series of irresponsible, short-term spending band aids. Under Paul Ryan, Republicans have an opportunity to get back to the business of intentional governing. They also have a chance to regroup and remember who the opposition is (hint: it’s not the GOP).

As he said in his acceptance speech [Thursday], “When people look at Washington, and all they see is chaos,what a relief to them it would be if we finally got our act together — what a weight off their shoulders… Nothing can stir the heart more than real, concrete results.” We look forward to working toward those results with the new House team. Congratulations, Speaker Ryan!

Debate and Switch

Not many people watch CNBC — and [Wednesday] night, it was obvious why. The hosts of the third GOP debate weren’t exactly hospitable ones, making the network almost the unanimous loser in a night that was supposed to be about the Republican candidates. So rude and condescending was the line of questioning that even the staunchest of liberals were embarrassed. People like Bill Maher, who wouldn’t find common ground with conservatives if he were standing on it, tweeted, “Oh my [gosh]. Did I just hear Ted Cruz say something awesome that I agree with? Yes. The media is even stupider than the pols.”

Others were openly critical of the CNBC strategy of personal harassment. And for good reason. From the opening bell to the closing remarks, moderators Becky Quick, Carl Quintanilla, and John Harwood turned into virtual attack dogs, mocking and belittling the candidates at every turn. Until finally, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had enough. “Let me just say… the questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz started. “You look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?’ ‘Ben Carson, can you do math?,’ ‘John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?,’ ‘Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?,’ ‘Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’” Cruz said to raucous applause. “How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?”

In the Democratic debate, Cruz pointed out, “every fawning question from the media was, ‘Which of you is more handsome and wise?’” At one point, Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) could only shake his head. “Even in New Jersey what you’re doing would be called rude,” he fired back. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who had a stellar night, piled on during a debate over political action committees. “Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC. It’s called the mainstream media.”

Afterward, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus blasted the network for doing a “disservice” to the American people and the presidential debates. “One of the great things about our party is that we are able to have a dynamic exchange about which solutions will secure a prosperous future, and I will fight to ensure future debates allow for a more robust exchange. CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled.”

Even members of the media tried to distance themselves from the agenda of the NBC parent company. “It was a disaster for all of us in the news business,” Howard Kurtz lamented. But perhaps not for voters, who will almost certainly think twice about taking the mainstream media’s word for anything.

Washington Coach Praying for Keeps

Students aren’t the only ones who get suspended from Washington’s Bremerton High School. Based on [Wednesday’s] decision, so do coaches. That’s the latest in the outrageous case of Joe Kennedy, the devout Christian at the center of a First Amendment firestorm. Less than two days before the Knights next football game, the team learned that it won’t have one of its biggest weapons on the field: Coach Kennedy.

After defying the school’s order and praying at the midfield line after the October 23rd game, the superintendent suspended the Marine vet until further notice. “You violated [our] directives by engaging in overt, public, and demonstrative religious conduct while still on duty as assistant coach,” Aaron Leavell wrote, “Effective immediately, pending further District review of your conduct, you are placed on paid administrative leave from your position as an assistant coach with the Bremerton High School football program. You may not participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities.”

The decision is a huge blow — not just to Coach Kennedy, but to every Christian who believes they shouldn’t have to check their beliefs the locker room door. The order came as somewhat of a shock to Kennedy’s attorneys at Liberty Institute, who have repeatedly sought a meeting with school officials. “They refused,” Hiram Sasser told Fox News’s Todd Starnes. “It’s unfortunate that this school district is choosing litigation instead of a simple meeting.”

And while the controversy might be local, the coach’s story certainly has national implications. After the Congressional Prayer Caucus sent a letter to the school district highlighting the constitutional flaws in their decision, Senator James Lankford chimed in again [Thursday] on Twitter: “Bremerton School District should be ashamed for placing #CoachKennedy on administrative leave for praying on the field. #SupportCoachKennedy.”

More than 28,000 have signed our petition to the school requesting an accommodation for Coach Kennedy. Click here to add your name to the petition.


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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