Want to hear a good one? For much of the last month, the House speakership being vacated by Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) was going unfilled because the sizeable super-right minority of Republican House members who call themselves the "Freedom Caucus" were finding Boehner's most likely replacement, Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) too "moderate" to hold the job.
Having basically run off Boehner and another possible successor to the leadership post — Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) — on grounds of being too soft toward President Obama or Planned Parenthood or congressional Democrats or whomever, the Freedom Caucus gang was surely choking on a gnat if they were gagging on Ryan, whose reason for entering politics had been his self-confessed youthful swoon for the writings of objectivist icon Ayn Rand.
Somehow, though, the far-right House members have apparently found themselves out of any other acceptable options, because the word is that, on Thursday of this week, the votes are on hand for Ryan to be elected as Speaker of the House, when Boehner formally steps down.
So Paul Ryan, who not too long ago was nominated by his party to be vice president, will have now slipped down a notch to become third-in-line for the presidency, no matter who gets elected president next year. That's what the Constitution provides.
Never mind that Ryan has never forsworn the philosophy of Rand, whose guiding ethical principle was to trust in human selfishness as the only motive needed to guide the government of mankind. The speaker-to-be is still, so far as we know, an exponent of that 21st-century derivative of Randism which holds that society is divided into makers —the privileged minority who profess to need nobody's help — and takers — the mass of mortals who, to one degree or another, require some measure of concern or assistance on the part of their government.
Not only is the makers/takers dichotomy an unethical point of view, it is woefully inaccurate, inasmuch as the supposed "makers" class contains as many moochers dependent on government protection of inherited wealth as it does innovators or manufacturers of tools necessary for life. And conversely, the so-called "takers" are often the toilers who provide the muscle or the man-hours to actually keep the wheels turning that allow the ticker tape (or, these days, the digital dial) to reflect some measure of economic progress.
Even so, we take our satisfaction when and as we can. And if the party that now controls both elected houses of Congress on the basis of its hatred of government per se is willing to name someone as leader who at least pledges — as Paul Ryan has done — to forgo the right to shut down government by rejecting a routine debt-ceiling increase, then maybe that's the best we can hope for.
So here's a weak whoopee that the GOP is willing to abide by some measure of economic common sense. Maybe they'll even get tired at some point of exploiting Benghazi!
But that really would be asking too much.