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Meadows' 'Meet the Press' spot cut to 11 seconds

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows makes a point as he talks with farmers, including Edneyville apple grower Kenny Barnwell, about immigration reform. U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows makes a point as he talks with farmers, including Edneyville apple grower Kenny Barnwell, about immigration reform.

When U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows made a procedural move six weeks ago to oust John Boehner as speaker of the House, it looked as if he may have bought himself a ticket to political exile — a bold but careless explorer never to be heard from again.

Not exactly.

The political retaliation never came to pass, maybe because Boehner and his advisers realized there was no way to punish Meadows without antagonizing the growing anti-establishment movement and making Meadows even bigger among its adherents. A former real estate developer who represents Henderson County and the rest of southwestern North Carolina, Meadows had already survived a trip to the doghouse and emerged more unchained. The House leader revoked his subcommittee chairmanship before quickly capitulating.

If Boehner's mercy was meant to move the recalcitrant second-termer into the go-along-to-get-along fold, it didn't work. In late July, just before a late summer recess, Meadows filed the motion aimed at forcing a vote on Boehner's speakership. Although it's gone nowhere since, the same can't be said of Meadows.

Those who predicted he would end up an ostracized martyr misjudged the political season, the Tea Party's sustained core strength and the political press's appetite for a longshot insurgency aimed at the powerful. Instead, Meadows emerged a hero of the far right — one congressman, seemingly the only one, willing to speak truth to power and attempt to advance the issues movement conservatives care about the most — from defunding Planned Parenthood to blocking President Obama's widely reviled Iran agreement.

The next stop up the media ladder happened on Sunday morning when Meadows appeared on "Meet the Press," long the standard-bearer of weekend political talk and analysis.

Meadows' office said in an advisory on Saturday that the congressman "will be on NBC 'Meet the Press' on Sunday morning discussing his vacate-the-chair motion."  And that was  literally true. He was on Meet the Press. For 11 seconds. Uttering one sentence: “The American people have grown weary of campaign promises that have not been fulfilled."

Wearing a gray suit and light blue tie and reading papers in a red folder, Meadows represented the House conflict as a one piece of the larger philosophical divide that has split the Republican Party.

His 11 seconds of fame on "Meet the Press" follows other mostly favorable stories on Meadows. A profile in the Washington Post called him "the Donald Trump of the House," not because of his hair or marriages — his one marriage is on its 37th year — but for his connection to the same anti-Washington wave that Trump has ridden to the top. Although he goes to work in Washington now, Meadows — like Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina if they were to win election to the presidency — had never held elective office until he rode the Republican tidal wave of 2012 to an easy victory in the 11th Congressional District.

Mike DeBonis, the Post reporter who shadowed Meadows on a district swing through Edneyville, Hendersonville and other stops on Aug. 28, wrote that the speakership threat had gained Meadows a measure of power.

Many in Washington "now refer to the Meadows motion as a 'sword of Damocles' hanging over Boehner," DeBonis wrote. "They are insisting that he pursue a harder line against Democrats in the coming months, even if it means shutting down the government. ...

"A day after filing his motion, Meadows, 56, drove eight hours to his home in the western North Carolina mountains. 'I went from a lion’s den to a petting zoo,' he said."

The "petting zoo" stops included a meeting with farmers, who were polite and respectful even if they disagree with the hardline opposition to immigration reform that Meadows is associated with; and a town hall meeting at Blue Ridge Community College, where constituents gave him a standing ovation.

Meadows was also the subject of a flattering profile in Breitbart News, a conservative online news and political commentary site.

“Having the people at my back," he said in another Breitbart story, "is better than having D.C. in my pocket.”