Why is there this impulse to empathize and even feel sorry for John Boehner?
The internet is thick with cruel GIFs of John Boehner crying today after he announced he was resigning as Speaker of the House and quitting Congress. But it’s hard not to have a little sympathy for the guy.
Is that why this guy cries all the time? To arouse sympathy?
Let me tell you something. About the only thing the tea party lunatics are correct about is their assessment that John Boehner has no guts. Otherwise, they’re delusional, and they’ve made delusional demands of Boehner from the start. But Boehner stoked that insanity:
The American people should be forced to watch the “Hell No You Can’t!” speech he gave from the House floor the day the Affordable Care Act passed. After you’ve watched that, ask yourself if he didn’t craft his own political sarcophagus. Ask yourself if this isn’t the most well-deserved political death of a Speaker of the House in our history.
You know, Dan Balz is a pretty dispassionate and objective reporter. I respect him more than probably any other guy of his job description in the capital. And he’s properly alarmed by what it means that John Boehner isn’t radical enough for the modern Republican Party. What we’re supposed to be mourning today isn’t John Boehner’s political career, but the loss of any hope that we’ll ever be able to coexist in any kind of productive and functional way with the Conservative Movement.
Boehner is leaving for the good of his party and presumably out of fatigue at the constant struggle with the rebellious faction in the House. But his departure will hardly resolve the contradictions and divisions that have marked his tenure. A leadership contest will ensue, giving the opportunity for a fresh start in the House. But the new speaker and team will grapple with the same underlying problems — the same irreconcilable issues — that bedeviled Boehner.
Beyond that, no congressional leader can truly take the reins of his or her party nationally. That is reserved for presidential nominees and ultimately presidents. It often has been said that the most successful among them are politicians who define their parties rather than being defined by them.
Who among those now seeking the GOP nomination can do that most effectively — and around what message? The candidate currently at the top of the polls — Trump — promises what the rebellious forces in the GOP most want to hear: that Washington is broken and that only an outsider can fix it. But he offers little in the way of evidence that he can do so.
Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) offers a similar outsider message but with purer conservative convictions than the reality TV star.
Can any of the others in the presidential field — former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), to name just three — tap that anger and unhappiness within the party base and still make a case for conservative governing that includes compromise and cooperation with the Democrats?
Republicans have been on a rightward journey since President George W. Bush left office in 2009, and their leaders have been in hot pursuit.
I think Balz does an excellent job there of describing the landscape, but even he is reluctant to assign blame. The Republican leaders, right now, may be in “hot pursuit” of the rightward lurch of the party base, but when this all started they were in the front waving the standard. They encouraged the heat fever delusions about the president’s birth certificate and his nefarious secret Islamic agenda; they stoked one ridiculous scandal after another and elevated the tragedy in Benghazi to Moby Dick proportions. As shown in the video above, Boehner himself used the most extreme and incendiary language imaginable to distort and dishonor the historic accomplishment of finally providing access to health care for tens of millions of uninsured Americans.
Don’t tell me that this is just politics as usual. I’m forty-six years old and I’ve been politically aware since people were discussing the 1976 presidential election. I’ve never seen nonsense like this before from either party. Not on this level.
Not even close.
And Boehner was the prime beneficiary of this strategy of maximum obstruction and obfuscation…a new experiment in the limits of bad faith.
Then it turned out that this creation of his didn’t want to pay our bills on time. It turned out that they constantly wanted to shut down the government even if it resulted in billions of dollars in economic losses, damaged our nation’s creditworthiness, threw people out of work, and made us look ridiculous on the world stage.
And we’re supposed to feel sorry for him that he couldn’t convince these folks not to do it again over some new heat fever delusion the anti-choicers drummed up with deceitful and selectively edited Planned Parenthood videos?
Fuck John Boehner.
That’s what all decent people should be saying this morning.
He got half of what he deserves.
And we got the bill.