The former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is a funny guy. From humble beginnings he becomes second in the line of succession to the Presidency. Hard as nails in outward persona, he is prone to shed tears. He looks like he could model men’s wear for Wall Street bankers, yet he retains the colorful language and sensibility of his humble beginnings. A fierce conservative, Boehner at least thought himself a bipartisan leader.
Boehner’s new book, On the House: A Washington Memoir, had tongues wagging prior to publications as Boehner began his publicity tour, repeating some very colorful statements from the book, usually relating to members of his own party.
I found the book a curious read. A few friends rolled their eyes when I posted that I was reading this book. It was a mostly enjoyable read. I try to approach books written from a vantage point different from mine with an open mind. Did the book change my view of Boehner? Not much. I maybe understood him better, but no, I am not a convert.
To be honest, I was interested in the salacious comments he hurled at fellow Republicans, and to discover some Democrats he liked and respected. Like Ted Kennedy.
I picked a few passages from the book to give you an idea of Boehner’s reflections.
“My Republican Party – the party of the smaller, fairer, more accountable government and not conspiracy theories – had to take back control from the faction that had grown to include everyone from garden-variety whack jobs to insurrectionists.”
Boehner says the Tea Party was first sign of problems for the Republicans, but I believe it started with Gingrich and the Contract on America bunch.
“Trump incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the bullshit he’d been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November.”
Boehner may be saying out loud what other Republicans are thinking, but that makes them cowards. Not voting for the bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection is bullshit (my words).
“Dealing withe the mainstream media had its challenges, but the so-called conservative media, from FoxNews to Rush Limbaugh and the other radio and TV talking heads, was a whole different sort of circus whose acts ran all the way down the line from responsible journalists to fire-eaters…”
Eliminating the fairness doctrine for broadcasters was a huge mail in the coffin of democracy. That’s why we have idiot talk radio and the “fair and balanced” FoxNews. Instead of a responsibility to present both sides of an issue you get propaganda that is fed through an I-V into the brains of Americans.
“One of the worst was Steve King of Iowa, who famously said the young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children had “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert…I called him an asshole, and then sometime later he stopped me in a hallway and asked, very seriously, ‘Why did you call me an asshole.’ ‘Because you are,’ I said…his constituents saw fit to get rid of him in a primary in June 2020.”
The rise of the fear-mongers, the liars and conspiracy theorists. King is a sick and delusional person who spread hate and division. Boehner called his out.
“Too many Republicans in Congress cared more about what Sean Hannity thought than the secretary of the Treasury or the Speaker of the House or the president of the United States. They were ready to destroy the economy for decades rather than come up with any realistic alternatives – just as long as it looked as if they were standing up to the establishment. We were, to put it bluntly, screwed.”
Even worse than the Tea Party (if you can imagine that), a group of Republicans were elected, not on policy, but on sowing divisiveness. Burn the government down, any means possible to win, instead of governing, the goal is chaos. We saw this on January 6.
“He (McCain) knew that in order to win he had to energize the conservative base. And so he picked on of the chief crazies as his running mate – an Alaskan governor no one had ever heard of named Sarah Palin. I had met her some time earlier with some other members. Nobody had come away exactly impressed by her deep knowledge of government. A few of the other members had commented on her looks.”
We used to disagree on issues and policy, now it is important to win by any means possible. Candidates are like Palin are symbols without solutions, representing a toxic message and strategy based on the tenants of fascism. Victims, oppression and an idealized future. How John McCain picked her is still a mystery.
“Of course, like any Republican ‘consensus,’ this one was turned on its head by the far-right knuckleheads that came to Congress radicalized by blind Obama hatred. Most of these types wouldn’t really support a balanced budget plan if I put one up for a vote, because that would be backing ‘leadership’ the number-two enemy after Obama.”
Boehner discovered that this new group had no desire to learn or follow in the footsteps of prior party leaders; those were dinosaurs who compromised instead of holding out for victory. Shutdown the government and fight the other party to the end, unfortunately that meant the American people were caught in the middle of this power play.
“And of course the truly nutty business about his birth certificate. People really had been brainwashed into believing Barack Obama was some Manchurian candidate planning to betray America.”
Trump even funded an effort to discredit Obama as he strung along this birther conspiracy theory. This pattern of tell a lie, attribute it to others, but keep repeating it, double down on it and people will eventually believe it. Same strategy used in 1930s Germany.
“When Michele Bachmann took her seat in Congress in 2007, she had already made a name for herself as a lunatic. While a member of the Minnesota Senate, she cautioned that showing kids the Disney movie The Lion King was a ‘normalization’ of homosexuality, because a gay man, Elton John, did the songs.”
This is seriously twisted stuff. I don’t even know where to start with this. Bachmann and her skewed religious bigotry that sadly gathered some followers. Thankfully, she is no longer in Congress.