How smart is Craddick’s strategy of enlisting the Republican Party machinery to put pressure on ten members whose support he regards as wobbly?

First, it is an obvious admission of desperation, a Hail Mary.

Second, it hoists him on the petard of his own promise not to strong-arm members into voting his way (not that anybody believed it).

Third, it creates a situation where the ten members are MORE likely to defect. They know that if they go with Craddick, he doesn’t trust them and will never trust them. On the other hand, if they go with the insurgency, they will have the added stature that comes with standing up to public pressure.

Surely the better course for Craddick was to call them in individually, one on one, and ask them for their support and their commitment: make them look him in the eye and tell him no. (It is always possible that he did this.) Only then should he have attempted this desperation play.

You are going to have a hard time finding anyone in the Capitol who believes that Tom Craddick will be elected speaker on January 11, 2009. Unless he does it the hard way, using Leininger and Bob Perry money–and his own–to knock out his enemies in Republican primaries. Is that what the Republican party wants? Is Tom Craddick worth this bloodbath?

For the answer to that question to be yes, Craddick has to persuade the moneybags that the Democrats will run the Legislature if he is not speaker. I don’t believe it. The new speaker would be Republican and would be supported by most of the Republicans. We just won’t see the far-right social issue agenda. And that, I believe, is good for the Republican party, not bad.