La Passion de Ben Quayle

Two years ago, Ben Quayle was just a vice presidential son with a lot of money and a big dream. There was an open congressional seat in one of the reddest parts of Arizona. He wanted it. Key to his campaign – to public awareness, to overwhelming an embarrassing story about pseudononymous columns he’d written for DirtyScottsdale.com – was a straight-to-camera epistle about why it was so important for him to run. “Somebody needs to go to Washington,” he said, “and knock the hell out of the place.”

Quayle’s an incumbent now, running to beat fellow freshman Rep. Dave Schweikert in a primary. (A non-partisan Arizona redistricting, after some fuss, gave the state a fairly balanced map.) Like Ridley Scott beofre him, he plumbs past success and makes a sequel.

Impressive, but what ever happened to knocking the hell out of the place? We check Quayle’s legislative record, which does not overflow with hell-knocking. Quayle sponsored 17 pieces of legislation, zero of which became law. They included one of the piecemeal Obamacare repeal bills, a sense of the Congress resolution about spending cuts, a thoughtful bill that would have allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion (which was done anyway by SCOTUS), and some other hopeless conservative flag-planters. He hasn’t “knocked the hell” out of anything. He’s taken the old Hillary Clinton route to respectibility: Slowing down, working with the leadership. Schweikert, Quayle’s opponent, has been much more flamboyan, without much more effectiveness – 20 bills, two of them eventually passed as part of the JOBS Act, but no luck for the Gingrichian bill that asked for the federal government to implement Lean Six Sigma techniques.*

Two years of achieving nothing makes it hard to be a hell-raiser. (This goes for the president, too.)

*Corrected an error to reflect how Schweikert got two bills into a larger package.