"Boehner is despised by the younger, more conservative members of the House Republican Conference. They are repelled by his personal behavior. He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any principle. Boehner has already tried to buy the members with campaign contributions and committee assignments, which he has already promised to potentially difficult members. His hold is insecure. He is not [Newt] Gingrich, the natural leader of a 'revolution,' riding the crest into power. He is careworn and threadbare, banal and hollow, holding nobody's enduring loyalty." – Sidney Blumenthal in a private email to Hillary Clinton
"We’ve never had anyone else willing to go on record about it. We have heard this from multiple sources on the Republican side that if you don’t get to Boehner by 7, 8 o’clock at night that he is hammered. I just know that he is beyond drunk.....This guy is sick. And as an alcoholic I know how difficult it is, but it’s interesting that everyone still rallies around him. …My concern has always been if the guy’s a raging alcoholic, how much danger does that put the United States of America in...? –
“Here’s the attitude. Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard.” -- John Boehner mocks Republicans in Congress who oppose amnesty
Over the next few days, you can expect to see lots of politicians, columnists and talking heads saying nice things about John Boehner now that he has stepped down as Speaker.
I am not going to be one of them.
There’s no reason to say nice things about John Boehner that he doesn’t deserve. He didn’t die; he quit his job after enough Republicans FINALLY started moving to unseat him behind the scenes. It would be a better country if that had been done years ago. Other than an earmark ban long ago and sequester cuts, which were practically accidental, John Boehner’s tenure as a leader has been one long, unbroken streak of mediocrity, cowardice and disaster.
Conservatives consider Boehner to be an untrustworthy weakling, Democrats look at him as a joke and the American public despises him. Boehner will leave office as the least popular Speaker in 30 years.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that this is a man BEST KNOWN FOR CRYING IN PUBLIC. He cried when he took the podium as Speaker of the House for the first time, when he talked to 60 Minutes, during a commencement address at Ohio State, on election night 2010, when Obama unveiled a Rosa Parks statue, at a ceremony honoring Winston Churchill, at a ceremony honoring golfer Arnold Palmer, at a ceremony honoring Neil Armstrong, while listening to Irish music on Saint Patrick’s Day and listening to Pope Francis among many, many other times.
Did it ever occur to anybody that a man who blubbers in public that much has serious issues and isn’t fit to lead?
Even setting that aside, as Yates Walker once wrote,
"If John Boehner started preaching the virtues of socialism tomorrow morning, the entire planet would turn capitalist by noon. Boehner is a walking, talking charisma vortex. When he's not speaking or crying, he has the look of a man about to apologize."
As a leader, Boehner’s “strategy” is usually completely reactive. It’s like he reluctantly gets in the ring with the Democrats, leads with his face and hopes that the Democrats will defeat him quickly so he can turn around and yell at the people who insisted he fight for something in the first place.
The perfect example of Boehner’s “leadership” came when Obama shut the government down because the House refused to fund Obamacare.
First of all, you have to keep in mind that John Boehner had publicly promised that the Republican Party would use the power of the purse to stop Obamacare if the GOP took control of the House in 2010.
“We are going to fight to repeal this government takeover of health care and start over with solutions that focus first on lowering costs. Cutting off funding for ObamaCare is absolutely something I support. For example, I would support moving as soon as possible to deny any funding for the estimated 16,500 IRS employees that will be needed to implement ObamaCare. House Republicans will continue to stand with the American people against this unconstitutional government takeover of health care.”
Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, Boehner never had any intention of living up to his pledge.
So eventually Ted Cruz started pushing the idea of using the power of the purse to stop Obamacare and it caught on in the House to such an extent that Boehner felt compelled to try it.
After hemming and hawing that made it clear he didn’t want to pursue the strategy in the first place, Boehner announced that the House was going to fund the government except for Obamacare. Then he came out like a house on fire, slammed Obama for shutting down the government and said he would stand tall!
After a few days of that, Boehner practically went mute while the Democrats continued to hammer away at Republicans. Meanwhile, Boehner ALLIES like Peter King and Devin Nunes publicly undercut the whole strategy, something they would have NEVER done without getting the thumbs up from the Speaker.
“We are the ones who did shut the government down. You don’t take the dramatic step of shutting down the government unless you have a real strategy.” -- Peter King
“Unlike many Republicans, (Devin) Nunes is publicly criticizing some of his colleagues, calling them ‘lemmings with suicide vests’ earlier this week.
….’It’s crazy. I don’t understand the whole point, the whole strategy. Most Americans don’t understand it,’ said Nunes.
The California Republican said a small group of lawmakers, what he calls ‘the lemming caucus,’ have been blocking GOP House leadership for three years.
‘It’s guys who meet privately. They’re always conspiring. It’s mostly just about power. And it’s just gotten us nowhere,’ said Nunes.”
Since government shutdowns are essentially a big game of chicken where both sides can equally be said to be at fault, but they try to blame each other, having Republicans in Congress siding with Democrats was very damaging to the effort.
Boehner had options. He could have held out and tried to make a case to the American people. He could have agreed to end the shutdown if Democrats would end the Obamacare subsidy for lawmakers and their staffs. Instead, as per usual, Boehner just surrendered and the shutdown lasted only 16 days.
To top it all off, Boehner went on the Leno Show and said none of it was his fault.
"It was a very predictable disaster, and the sooner we got it over with, the better. I told my colleagues in July I didn’t think shutting down the government over Obamacare would work because the President said, ‘I’m not going to negotiate.’ And so I told them in August ‘Probably not a good idea.’ Told them in early September. But when you have my job, there’s something you have to learn … When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way. And you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk … So I said, ‘You want to fight this fight? I’ll go fight the fight with you.'"
The types of questions people had after this disaster were the ones that dogged Boehner through his whole tenure as “leader.”
The shutdown was a predictable disaster? Then why did he promise to adopt that strategy before he became Speaker? Did he not realize it was a bad idea then or was he just a liar who made promises he never intended to keep? Moreover, if Boehner knew the strategy wouldn’t work, why did he go through with it? Furthermore, how do you call talking tough for a few days and then caving a “fight?” Once Boehner decided to go with the strategy, what was his plan to win – or was it his plan all along to fight a halfhearted battle, lose and then throw up his hands and say, “I tried?” Whatever happened to actually trying to WIN battles for conservatism and the American people? When did that officially become something the Republican Party doesn’t do anymore?
Republicans have a right to expect a lot more out of a leader than drinking, crying and capitulating in every fight that matters. That’s all John Boehner has offered America since he became Speaker of the House and the tragedy isn’t that he’s being muscled out of office, it’s that it didn’t happen much sooner.