By Alex P. Vidal
“You can lead a man to Congress, but you can’t make him think.”—Milton Berle
WHEN Surigao Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez was ousted as House speaker in July 2018, his tormentors immediately installed former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as his replacement.
In contrast, American lawmakers did not have an immediate replacement for GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy after kicking him out as House speaker in a vote of 216-210 October 3.
The rules of the 118th U.S. Congress state that “in the case of a vacancy in the office of speaker, the next member” named on a list submitted by McCarthy to the clerk of the House in January will become speaker pro tempore until a speaker is elected. A House reading clerk announced immediately after the vote that Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina was the first name on McCarthy’s list and therefore was appointed speaker pro tempore.
Also, the bizarre changing of the guards in the Philippine Lower House appeared to have the blessings of then President Rodrigo Duterte, who was scheduled to make his State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the mutiny against Alvarez (he was allowed to stay and perform his last official function as Speaker when Mr. Duterte delivered his SONA as a “courtesy.”)
In contrast, US President Joseph Biden was off-hand or had nothing to do whatsoever with the chaotic yanking out of McCarthy, who was thrown under the bus by eight of his fellow GOP stalwarts led by the rebellious 41-year-old “arsonist” Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Unlike Alvarez who had no more chance to regain the speakership after Rep. Macapagal-Arroyo took over, McCarthy could still win back the speakership but opted not to run again when his colleagues choose the new speaker reportedly next week.
After his ouster, Alvarez did not blame Mr. Duterte but started to distance from him politically.
Ex-Speaker Alvarez was ally of Mr. Duterte, while ex-Speaker McCarthy is a critic of Mr. Biden.
At least 161 members of the 292-member Philippine lower chamber signed a manifesto showing their shift of loyalty to Rep. Macapagal-Arroyo.
“I don’t regret standing up for choosing governing over grievance. It is my responsibility. It is my job. I do not regret negotiating. Our government is designed to find compromise,” McCarthy said at a wide-ranging press conference October 3 evening.
Gaetz, a hardline former President Donald Trump loyalist from Florida, led the push, which succeeded when eight Republicans joined with all 208 Democrats to boot McCarthy, who is also a Trump loyalist.
Last month, McCarthy challenged his detractors, including Gaetz, to file a motion to vacate if they wanted to remove him.
McCarthy reportedly told fellow conservatives, “If you want to file a motion to vacate, then file the f—ing motion.”
We would scarcely call anyone “educated” who had no knowledge, whatsoever of history; we all recognize that a man should know something of the history of his own country, its political, social and economic development, its literary and artistic achievements–preferably indeed in the wider setting of European and, to a certain extent, even World history.
But if an educated and cultured Englishman may be expected to possess some knowledge of Alfred the Great and Elizabeth, of Cromwell and Marlborough and Nelson, of the Norman invasion, the Reformation, and the Industrial Revolution, it would seem equally clear that he should know something at least of Roger Bacon and Duns Scotus, of Francis Bacon and Hobbes, of Locke, Berkeley and Hume, of J.S. Mill and Herbert Spencer.
Moreover, if an educated man is expected to be not entirely ignorant of Greece and Rome, if he would be ashamed to have to confess that he had never heard of Sophocles and Virgil, and knew nothing of the origins of the European culture, he might equally be expected to know something of Plato and Aristotle, two of the great thinkers the world has ever known, who men who stand at the head of European philosophy.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)