The Quorum Report has the news that the ABCs have gone public with eleven R’s who will not support Tom Craddick’s reelection as speaker. This is the scenario I have been writing about for the last week: If the ABCs and the Dunnam D’s get together, Craddick’s speakership is over and there is nothing the rest of the members can do about. They got together, and it appears to be over. By this time tomorrow, Republican members will be contacting the ABCs and asking where do they go to sign up. And the Craddick D’s will be looking for a home as well. The most important thing to come out of today’s revelations is not that there are 75 votes against Craddick. That has been the case for weeks; Eissler was the eleventh ABC to go with the 64 D’s. What is significant about today is that they went public, not only with their names, but also with their intention to reveal their consensus choice for speaker on Friday, January 2. The big hurdle for the anti-Craddicks has never been getting 76 votes. It has been achieving unity among the leaders of the insurgents behind a single candidate. We won’t know for sure that this has been achieved until January 2. The Craddick forces can always hope that the choice will not be acceptable to some of the insurgents, even some of the Democrats and the coalition could splinter. Here’s why this isn’t going to happen. It involves a personal story. Back when Newt Gingrich and the Republicans were trying to oust Jim Wright as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, I went to Washington to write about the situation. My first interview was with Charlie Wilson, who was as astute an observer of politics as Texas has produced during my career. I asked him if the Republican offensive against Wright was just politics. “Some of it is,” Charlie acknowledged, “but his biggest problem is, He made them hate him.” That’s Craddick’s problem. This has gone way beyond politics. It’s personal. For six years he has rubbed his enemies’ noses in the dirt. He excommunicated them from having any role in the legislative process. He put them in the doghouse and padlocked the door. He made them hate him. The insurgents aren’t going to say that publicly — they simply say that it is time for a new speaker — but I think that they are going to take their former compatriot Fred Hill’s words to heart: “The time to kill a snake is when you have the hoe in your hands.”
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