It might be time to admit that Louie Gohmert knows exactly what he’s doing. After all, how many members of the U.S. House of Representatives from places like East Texas have a national reputation?
On Wednesday the Tyler Republican Congressman indulged his latest flight of fancy during the Republican Party’s leadership election. Instead of giving in to what Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post reported was “the otherwise routine process of reelecting Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as speaker,” Gohmert nominated Newt Gingrich.
That’s right, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who was last a member of that body in the Clinton years.
Unsurprisingly Gohmert’s nomination got Twitter all a-titter:
— montag (@buffaloon) November 15, 2012
— Harold Cook (@HCookAustin) November 14, 2012
Except, it turns out you don’t actually have to be in Congress to help the run the place:
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) November 14, 2012
And Gohmert knew that. “You don’t have to be a member of the body to be speaker,” he reportedly told the Republican caucus.
Here’s the info from the House clerk’s FAQ:
Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.”
Although the Constitution does not require the Speaker to be a Member of the House, all Speakers have been Members.
(Yes, that’s how “choose” was spelled in the late eighteenth century. Let’s get that back in circulation, strict constructionists!)
But just because it’s constitutionally possible to nominate Newt Gingrich doesn’t mean it’s not far-fetched to do so. Despite the headline on Dan Amari’s Daily Intel story saying Gingrich “received one vote,” nobody actually seconded Gohmert’s nomination (though it was a voice vote, so he still might have abstained or voted “nay”).
“Say it with me again: There was no second,” wrote Michael J.W. Stickings of the Reaction.
As Amari noted, the rule means “Ronald Reagan’s jar of jelly beans could probably become the Speaker if enough congressmen were on board.”
That’s a bit out there. May we instead suggest Jim Wright? Or maybe Tom DeLay? No? How about Bryan Hughes?
Gohmert told Alex Pappas of the Daily Caller, “I just felt like it was time to change business as usual,” and that Boehner should be held accountable for the Republican Party’s poor showing in last week’s election.
“I’ve been giving it some thought,” he also said. “Talked to some people about it.”
And Gohmert’s hardcore fans—conservatives, that is, not writers for The Daily Show—seemed to be listening:
Congressman Louie Gohmert rocks. HE SHOULD BE THE SPEAKER. He’s a brilliant conservative from Texas. @replouiegohmert
— Tex Thornton(@ThorntonB1) November 15, 2012
— Thomas S Schmitz(@ThomasSSchmitz) November 14, 2012
HOLY CRAP! Levin said Louie Gohmert (TX) stood up in the House today and nominated NEWT GINGRICH 4 Speaker! My #StateCrush on Texas grows
— Fight Harder! (@ME2_22) November 15, 2012
Meanwhile, Boehner himself took it in stride:
In his acceptance speech, Boehner responds to Rep. Louie Gohmert’s nomination of Newt Gingrich: “Louie, I love you too.”
— Rebecca Berg (@rebeccagberg) November 14, 2012
So say we all.