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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Nothing so became John Boehner’s tenure as Speaker as his manner of leaving it. Subjectively speaking, he has never appeared to believe very much of the arrant nonsense his position required him to utter. An old-school politician who literally grew up working in the family bar, his conservatism is of the traditional Midwestern kind — more Bob Dole, say, than Ted Cruz.

More process and negotiation, that is, than ideological certitude and visionary schemes to purge the nation of sin. To be blunt about it, very few Roman Catholics and none who grew up in a bar could ever believe such a thing possible. Unafraid to let his emotions show as Pope Francis urged lawmakers to compromise for the common good, Boehner may have, in that moment, recognized his own complete failure.

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Boehner expressed his frustration in theological terms. Asked if the fundamentalist-dominated Tea Party faction, which views him as a sellout to President Obama, was unrealistic, he almost shouted.

“Absolutely they’re unrealistic!” he said. “But the Bible says beware of false prophets. And there are people out there spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean, this whole idea that we were going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013, this plan never had chance.”

“But over the course of the August recess in 2013, and the course of September,” Boehner added, “a lot of my Republican colleagues who knew it was a fool’s errand, really they were getting all this pressure from home to do this. And so we have got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town who whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they… KNOW are never going to happen.”

No, and shutting the government down in 2015 to get rid of Planned Parenthood has even less of a chance of accomplishing anything other than pointless melodrama, TV face time for the aforementioned Sen. Cruz, and the near-certain election of a Democratic president.

The late Robert F. Kennedy once told a friend of mine that no particular genius was required to succeed in politics, but you do have to be able to count. It’s because Boehner understands that, yet seemingly lacked the intestinal fortitude to abandon the so-called “Hastert Rule,” that his speakership came to such a sad end.

What with Hastert nearing an ignominious denouement of his own — the former Speaker’s lawyers are reportedly negotiating a guilty plea involving hush money paid to a young man he’d sexually molested as a high school coach — you’d think Republicans would want to avoid the phrase, if not the practice.

The act of refusing to let the House vote on any bill not supported by a majority of Republicans not only placed party above country, it also permitted Tea Party hotheads to paralyze the government. In consequence, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin points out, a 2013 immigration reform bill favored by GOP leadership that passed 62-38 in the Senate never even came to a vote in the House.

Supported by such luminaries as Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio, the bill would clearly have passed had Boehner allowed a vote — good for the nation, good for the Republican Party. Alas, to keep his job, Boehner caved to Tea Party nativists. In consequence, Toobin writes, “he suffered the fate of all those who give in to bullies; he was bullied some more.”

This year it was the highway bill — another popular, badly needed, job-intensive piece of legislation also opposed by the Tea Party. The tyranny of the minority, you might call it. If they had their way, we’d all have to buy tractors and bush-hog our own roads.

Instead, Boehner permitted the innumerate faction something like 60 votes to repeal Obamacare — each as futile and pointless as the last, and the very definition of “things they know are never going to happen.”

Another consequence of Boehner’s failure, it should be said, is the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, the blowhard billionaire who appears to have convinced millions of voters who failed to master 8th grade civics that he can solve the nation’s toughest problems by yelling at them.

In stepping down, Boehner secured the agreement of his GOP antagonists to vote for a “clean” continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through mid-December with no demands to defund Planned Parenthood — the latest extreme right publicity stunt. After that, all bets are off.

“November and December are going to be like Dante’s Inferno around here,” New Jersey Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. told the New York Times.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that Republican voters oppose shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood by 56-36 percent. Americans overall oppose the idea by 69-23 percent.

All that’s needed is a Speaker strong enough to put country above party.

U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner exits a Republican caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol after announcing to the meeting that he will be resigning his speakership and his seat in Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on September 25, 2015.  REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

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  • Dominick Vila

    I agree with what Gene wrote. The emotion that Speaker Boehner showed, time and again, was a manifestation of his true feelings, and I suspect most Tea Party activists were well aware of that. His sudden decision to quit, not only the Speaker-ship, but his elected post, may have been influenced by Pope Francis speech, when he spoke of moral and human values, while excoriating the excesses of materialism. If the TP gets its way and they replace Boehner with one of their own, we are going to miss his stewardship, and his ability to mitigate the excesses of far right politicians. We may end up with political positions that instead of obstructionism pursue open warfare against every single social program, and all the social progress achieved during the last century. Boehner did not fit in today’s GOP. He knew it, and so did his detractors.

    • RED

      Right wing traitors have pursued war against far more than just social programs. They’ve pursued a war against Americans.

    • 1standlastword

      I think when the Pope asked Boehner to “pray for me” he captured Boehner, who might have thought and felt that he would not be able to use his mouth for politics since after that moment his tongue Belonged to Francis!

      It might be considered a Road to Damascus moment…

      • Dominick Vila

        I am not a Boehner fan, but I think he did everything he could to moderate people who are, clearly, out of control and determined to destroy all the social progress achieved during the last century. When GOP leaders admit that their policies of obstructionism, that delayed the economic recovery and caused so much misery, were pursued to ensure President Obama was a one-term President, and when a major candidate to become Speaker of the House acknowledged that the Benghazi “scandal” was designed to destroy the candidacy of an opponent…and their constituents re-elect them and support them, it is evident that the problems we are dealing with are much worse than a lot of people think.

        • Bob Eddy

          No. He more often capitulated to them. Many times when he had the votes to avoid disaster, he did not allow a vote (immigration reform and the shutdown are two examples)in deference to the teabagger nut cases. Had he stood up to them from the beginning he may well have avoided his demise, but then he is not and never has been a leader.

  • John Murchison

    I have to admit that I forgot the whole Denny Hastert episode. How soon we forget huh? I love the term “Ignominious denouement” though. What an elagant way to say dirt-bag molester.

    • silas1898

      Put Hastert in a cell with Sandusky. One should never be mentioned without the other.

      • John Murchison

        They do have simular coaching styles.

  • itsfun

    Far left controls Dems, far right controls Republicans. We can forget about ever hearing the word compromise from Washington.

    • johninPCFL

      Maybe, but the “far left” of today is just a little left of center by 1980s standards. The far right, on the other hand, has more in common with the Taliban and Sharia-enforcers than any GOP member from the 1980s.

      • itsfun

        If you are right about the far left, why can’t the DNC answer the question about what is the difference between Socialism and the Democratic Party? I think both sides are about as far to left and right as possible.

        • awakenaustin

          They could answer the question. You wouldn’t understand it.

          • itsfun

            Can you explain the difference? With your obvious higher intelligence you should be able to explain it in terms even I can understand.

          • Independent1

            As with most of your post, they’re totally idiotic. NOTHING about the Democratic party even comes close to resembling SOCIALISM!!


          • Bob Eddy

            I can answer the question, now let’s see if you are capable of understanding. Socialism advocates for government ownership of production and distribution. After almost seven years of “the most radically left wing president in history” according ton right wing politicobabble, how many companies, let alone industries have been nationalized? Ill even give you a hint — the answer rhymes with Nero. The reason the question couldn’t be answered is because it was an inherently stupid question.

          • itsfun

            You know more than the DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She couldn’t answer that question when she appeared on Hardball.

          • Bob Eddy

            Once again, because it was an inherently stupid question. The real issue is why the right wing has made such a big deal out of the answer rather than the inherently stupid question.

          • itsfun

            Oh come on. She couldn’t answer the question. She just did everything she could to not answer and change the subject.

          • Bob Eddy

            I stipulated that you wouldn’t be able to comprehend. I rest my case. Go bother someone else with your nonsense.

          • itsfun

            You don’t have a case. You only have what Obama tells you to have. Try doing some real thinking for a change.

          • Bob Eddy

            Right out of rightvwing troll school. When you lose, change the subject and project your weaknesses on the other party. You learned well, my right wing troll!

        • The DNC is not in a position to explain the difference, though Red States could explain how they are the Socialist States of America quite simply, they pay less into the US Gov and get more back…. aka: “redistribution of wealth”

      • itsfun

        Many would say the far left has more in common with Karl Marx then the US constitution.

        • Bob Eddy

          And, of course, the only thing that would indicate is a total ignorance of Karl Marx, the Constitution and the Democratic party, which is not far left…in fact I would say that today’s Democratic party us closer to a Ronald Reagan than to Karl Marx.

        • “We the People” = Democratic Socialism, the US Constitution is in fact, VERY left, liberal, and socialist.

      • The American Taliban is what we call them, do a search, it’s been going on since before the creation of America

    • browninghipower

      You’re just plain wrong and tossing out straw men about the Dems.

    • Bob Eddy

      Not true! As proof, do any of the Democratic presidential candudates have any substantive differences with John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson? Do the Teabaggers have anything in common with Ronald Reagan who agreed to compromises, raised taxes, agreed to amnesty and even signed a bill expanding access to abortion while governor of California. They may worship Reagan, but not unlike their brand of Christianity that pretty much ignores the teachings of Christ, their brand of Reaganism has little to do with what Reagan did. The truth is that most Democrats today would fit right into the party of Kennedy, Johnson and Carter while none of today’s Republican presidential candidates would fut into the party of Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt.

      • itsfun

        Democrats of today do not fit in with JFK at all. They are Jimmy Carter and LBJ. If they fit in with Truman, I would still be a Democrat. JFK reduced taxes, something you will never see the Democrats of today do. LBJ loved the give away programs, as did Carter. If it was up to Carter and many of today Dems, we would go back to candle power and horse and buggy.

        • Bob Eddy

          The top rax rate when Kennedy cut taxes was 91% and he was not facing a 1.4 trillion budget deficit as was thus Democrat when he took office. I doubt that Kennedy would have cut taxes that had already been cut to half of what they were when he took office.

          • itsfun

            I wonder what the next President will do after inheriting a debt of 19 trillion?

          • Bob Eddy

            Perhaps you should have been asking that when REPUBLICANS Ronald Reagan and George Bush ran up 12 trillion of it!

    • Far left doesn’t control anything. Otherwise Sanders would of been president, or Dennis Kucinich for that matter, the Dem party moved right, always does, to appease the right wing wackos, who gave us NAFTA? Bill Clinton! Who end are Glass Seagle? Bill Clinton …..

  • RED

    ” A Speaker strong enough to put country above party?” The author does realize the Speaker is sadly going to be a Republican, right? So there is absolutely no chance they will put anything above themselves much less allowing any concern for the country to get in the way of their astonishingly crazy, ignorant, bigoted, fairy tale following plans. The right wing is a plague!

    • oldtack

      They walk LOCK STEP with the Tea Party directives. They dare not deviate lest they be ousted. Does that sound something like Hitler’s NAZI PARTY?

      • Conservative ideology attracts those who desire, support and look up to dictators, hence the “Us against them” and religious dogma that has been so well used, just as Hitler did! He is the most successful conservative Christian in “recent” hidtory!

  • oldtack

    If one looks at John Boehner’s record as a Republican Representative from Ohio he functioned well. His record was better or a good as most of the “best” in that den of iniquity.

    However, even though he was a decent Representative for his State and a General Party Policy person, John Boehner was not and could never have been a leader and an effective Speaker of the House. He is more of a follower than a leader as are the majority of us in civilian life outside the management area. Not all are geared to be Leaders.

  • oldtack

    Tea Party Republicans are no more a part of what we know as the Republican Party than was the National Socialist Party of Germany (Nazi) a part of the German Democrat Republic.
    They pose under “ethics” but they are in truth Evangelical “Christian” zealots bent on destruction of our present form of Government and the establishment of their convolution vision of Government.

    Just like the NAZI Party.

    If you think Sharia Law reprehensible just wait until you “wake up under Evangelical “Christian” law.”

    • Founder tried squashing the theocracy the earlier settlers had created here, the USA was to be theocracy free. Only those who don’t see this and call this a Christian nation, (usually conservative Christians) believe otherwise

  • Lynda Groom

    The contrast between having one of the most productive and effective Speakers in history and the tenure of Boehner is truly astounding. And the difference became clear in just a matter of days after handing the mallet to John. In his defense the previous Speaker was working primarily with adults as compared to the GOP caucus. Running for the hills is probably the best he could accomplish for himself and leaving the crazies to toss about by themselves. The party of NO brought this debacle upon themselves and unfortunately it will be up to them to address their own problems. I can’t see much being done considering the make up of todays GOP. Too bad the rest of the population has to suffer along with them.

    • Polana

      The population voted them in, so now they should not cry that the promises they believe did not materialize. Stupid people get what is coming to them, and they will vote for them again.

  • bcarreiro


  • barneybolt12

    American History will not be kind to him. He could not and would not lead. It’s shameful how he managed the House.

    • American history had proper up Reagan to be one of the greatest…couple yrs from now, we will seethe same with GWB #43

  • CrankyToo

    I don’t believe there currently exists within the House Republican caucus, a representative possessed of the integrity, the intestinal fortitude and/or the patriotism to place the needs of this country above the desires of his/her party. The Republicans who infest our House of Representatives – and those in the Senate, as well – are a bunch of seditious scumbags.

  • plc97477

    It would have helped if boeher’s party didn’t consist of very childish people.

  • mwh191

    There were so many problems with boehner’s speakership, but I think the biggest problem was that he didn’t understand the job he was elected and paid to do. For some reason, boehner never seemed to understand that his job was to be Speaker of the entire House, not speaker of the republican members of the House. Following the discredited “hastert rule” led boehner to marginalize himself and his republican caucus, resulting in one of the least productive Congresses in history. I guess it’s too much to hope that the next speaker will do the job and not limit himself to being “speaker of the republicans”.

  • Bob Eddy

    He caved in early to the teabaggers and emboldened them thus weakening his position. Once again we learn you need to use caution when working with terrorists. Had he done His job and brought bipartisan legislation to a vote, their position would have been weakened and we would not have seen them multiply like rats and there could still be a Republican party.

  • DOC

    To much in fighting

  • Conservative ideology has always been on the “wrong side of history” in the USA, hence the creation of FOX, the movement to rewrite and white-wash history, redisticting, stealing elections, burning “Witches” and condemning all minorities, etc

  • Whatmeworry

    Unfortunately John was dealing with mental midget in the WH was incapable of ever doing the job. Barak has O social ability and made negotiating impossible with a dictator

    • Bob Eddy

      A mental midget that stopped the free fall the economy was in after the complete failure of the conservative agenda.
      A mental midget that got us out if two expensive, pointless, unnecessary wars the Republicans got us into.
      A mental midget that has reduced the deficit by 75%
      A mental midget that has given us the first increase in the manufacturing index in decades.
      A mental midget that has cut the unemployment rate by almost half.
      A mental midget that has led the stick markets to record highs and us still double what it was when he took office.
      Sorry. It looks like perhaps you are the mental midget.

  • Bob Eddy

    The last sentence completely misses the whole point. It will not take a speaker who is strong enough to put country above party. It will take a Speaker who has the integrity and patriotism to put country above party. I don’t see any one in the entire teabagger movement that meets that qualification.