New York Times Columnist: Make Mike Lee the Speaker

Mike Lee Constitution Alex Brandon AP
Alex Brandon/AP

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wants Sen. Mike Lee to be Speaker of the House.

Douthat, a rare conservative on the Times staff, wrote a piece Saturday advocating for Speaker John Boehner’s replacement to be a tea party member. The Speaker does not technically have to be a current member of the House, which has inspired some to suggest that Newt Gingrich could come back and do the job.

But Douthat wants a senator: Utah’s Mike Lee. Douthat says Lee has “an insurgent’s resume.”

“He was Ted Cruz’s partner in crime during the government shutdown debates,” Douthat wrote of Lee. “His scorecard with Heritage Action, often the scourge of G.O.P. leaders, currently stands at 100 percent. And unlike almost every member of the House and Senate leadership, he’s a genuine foe of comprehensive immigration reform. Douthat added:

At the same time, like Ryan (and unlike Cruz), Lee has been a real policy entrepreneur. He authored a pro-family tax plan that breaks with some (if perhaps not enough) of the G.O.P. donor class’s orthodoxies. He has offered serious proposals on transportation, higher education and religious liberty. And just this week he was part of a bipartisan breakthrough on criminal justice reform, one of the rare issues where the late Obama years still offer hope for compromise.

Douthat wrote somewhat positively of Paul Ryan’s positive credentials, but ultimately threw water on the idea, currently floating around the Hill, that Ryan should be Speaker.

“But Ryan is not really of the Tea Party,” Douthat wrote. “In the Bush era he voted for bills like No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and TARP, all of which today’s conservative insurgents despise. And he’s a dove on immigration, the issue where the party’s base always expects — with good reason! — their leadership is poised to sell them out.”


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