In former House Speaker John Boehner’s telling, the Republican Party is leaderless, his former colleagues are a**holes, the conservatives pushing the GOP to the Right are terrorists, conservative media are dividing America, and Mark Levin is a Dark Lord of the Sith, dragging conservatives over “to the dark side” by pushing Republicans to keep their promises.
As the latest Politico Mag Profile feature, Boehner lets loose (Politico, of course, being the favorite rag of establishment Republicans looking for a friendly liberal media outlet to help trash conservatives). Reflecting on his speakership over “bottomless glasses of wine” and the events that led to his eventual ouster, Boehner had a lot to say to Tim Alberta and Politico, most of which was an unfiltered assault on the Tea Party.
He feels particular ire for conservatives — like for Freedom Caucus nemesis and fellow Ohioan Rep. Jim Jordan, who he labeled “a legislative terrorist,” and for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, “the most miserable son of a bitch I’ve ever had to work with.” Their sin? Attempting to push GOP legislative priorities to the right to align with Republican campaign promises.
Of conservative media, which championed the Republican Party in the 2010 Tea Party wave that gave Boehner speakership, he said that figures like LevinTV host Mark Levin are the true dividers in this country, giving President Obama and his “pen and phone” authoritarian governance a pass.
It wasn’t Obama who led to this divided state of the country, Boehner told Alberta, “It was modern-day media, and social media, that kept pushing people further right and further left.”
“I always liked Rush [Limbaugh]. When I went to Palm Beach I would always meet with Rush and we’d go play golf. But you know, who was that right-wing guy, [Mark] Levin? He went really crazy right and got a big audience, and he dragged [Sean] Hannity to the dark side. He dragged Rush to the dark side.”
“And these guys — I used to talk to them all the time. And suddenly they’re beating the living shit out of me.”
With good reason. What had Speaker John Boehner done for the conservative movement?
Boehner’s grand accomplishment as a rank-and-file member of the House of Representatives was to work with Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, the “liberal lion,” on No Child Left Behind – which further federalized education and paved the way for Common Core. As minority leader under President Bush, Boehner worked with Democrats and the White House to bail out “Too Big to Fail” banks during the financial crisis.
His non-legacy as House Speaker during the Obama years is an embarrassing list of failed initiatives and acts of surrender to the progressives. When conservatives were pushing for a plan to “Cut, Cap, and Balance” federal spending in 2011, Boehner refused to fight for the effort, mocking it as “Snap, Crackle, and Pop.”
After caving to President Obama’s spending demands, the deal Boehner did strike eviscerated the military. In 2013, Boehner retreated from the fight to defund Obamacare – a monumental mistake that permitted Obamacare to go into effect robbing millions of Americans of quality health insurance plans and ensuring that full repeal would be nigh impossible.
Throughout his speakership, Boehner caved on debt-ceiling increase after increase; caved on Obama’s massive, unprecedented spending; caved on defunding Obama’s illegal executive amnesty.
Who did he fight? Conservatives in his own party, stripping them of committee assignments as retribution for challenging his authority and voting against bills that violated every principle of the Republican platform and the promises the party and Boehner himself had made to the American people.
In fact, Boehner’s speakership was characterized by bullying Tea Party conservatives in his own conference while bending over for President Obama, the Democrats, and media. When conservatives grew tired of being treated like dirt by the Ohio congressman, when it became clear that Boehner’s leadership was failing the American people, a group of brave representatives in the House said enough was enough and successfully forced Boehner's hand and resignation in 2015.
Now that he’s finally gone, he comes out of retirement with an axe to grind and bashes these same conservatives.
His ungratefulness is offensive.
Were it not for conservative media and conservative groups like Heritage Action, FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, and a multitude of others harnessing grassroots support for conservative principles, Boehner would never have ascended to the speakership in 2010.
There is no legacy of Speaker John Boehner without the conservatives he so despises. And the conservative base despises him in turn, for repeatedly selling out to the Democrats — for not fighting hard enough against President Obama’s radically transformative progressive agenda.
Let’s be clear: If John Boehner hadn’t fought conservatives, if he had challenged President Obama, if he was a little bit more of, in his words, a “right-wing idiot,” he would still be speaker of the House today, under a Republican president.
Further, if Boehner and the Republican establishment had embraced the conservatism of the Tea Party, the heirs of the Reagan Revolution, there would be no great intra-party fissure. There would be no conservative/establishment divide, no GOP “civil war.”
It is, in fact, Boehner’s rejection of conservatism and the establishment’s unrelenting assault on conservatives in Congress instead of Democrats that led to the anti-establishment hostile takeover of President Donald Trump. Boehner calls the Republican Party under Trump “leaderless,” but Trump’s election and the current state of the party is Boehner’s fault.
Still, that is water under the bridge. Now settled in his retirement, as he fades into irrelevancy, Boehner is making plans to co-chairing a think tank in Nevada with former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.
In a particularly telling paragraph of the profile, Politico’s Tim Alberta writes that Boehner often felt more welcome among Democrats than he did among members of his own party. That was exactly the problem with Boehner’s speakership, and it continues to be the problem with Republican leadership in Congress today.
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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