Richard Engle has served the Republican Party in Oklahoma diligently since 1988. His role in moving the Sooner State to the political right cannot be overstated. He has represented Oklahoma in the Republican National Committee and has sat on the RNC’s standing committee on rules.
Engle is intimately familiar with the proper Republican rules-making process — he has participated in it — and he recognizes how that process was hijacked by members of the Romney inner circle at the meeting of the Convention Rules Committee.
When it comes to all this “radical” rewriting, Engle admits that he doesn’t know whether Ginsberg acted on his own or on behalf of Governor Romney. He does know, however, that the sweeping revisions of Rules 12 and 15 (now 16) “changed the nature of the Republican Party and returned it to the smoke-filled rooms of the past.”
So drastic were the revisions that Engle compared the convention to the Soviet Politburo, a sham with no more legitimate power than to rubber stamp their leaders’ directives.
To their credit, Engle relates that upon hearing Ginsberg’s suggested rules changes the delegates on the Convention Rules Committee “of every stripe” reacted negatively. All of them realized that if the changes were adopted by the convention, the populist influence would be eliminated and all non-Establishment voices within the Republican Party would be silenced. Engle worries that the rules package proposed by Ginsberg would have the effect of putting “a certain type of party member in charge of the GOP.”
Evidence of the delegates’ displeasure is found in the attempted filing of a Minority Report. According to Rule 34 of the Republican Party rules in effect at the August 28 meeting:
No resolution or amendment pertaining to the report of the Committee on Resolutions or the Committee on Rules and Order of Business shall be reported out or made a part of any report of such committee or otherwise read or debated before the convention, unless the same shall have been submitted to the chairman, vice chairman, or secretary of such committee or to the secretary of the convention in writing not later than one hour after the time at which such committee votes on its report to the convention and shall have been accompanied by a petition evidencing the affirmative written support of a minimum of twenty-five percent (25%) of the membership of such committee.
The Minority Report opposing the Romney lawyer’s rule changes was signed, sealed, but was never delivered. Curiously, the delegate in possession of the Minority Report was riding a bus denied entry to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Without a timely filed Minority Report, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) proceeded to call for a vote on Ginsberg’s rewrite of the Republican rulebook.
Standing at the podium and reading from a teleprompter, Boehner instructed those in favor of the rules to say “aye” and those opposed to say “nay.”
A small coterie of Establishment Republicans have wrested control of the GOP and formed the mold into which any Republican wanting to run for president from now on must fit.