In October 2015, John Boehner abruptly left the speaker’s chair. Faced with a hyper-brown Freedom Caucus, the Ohio congressman announced his retirement singing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. He walked before they made him run.
By all indications, Boehner is happier abroad: advising high-priced clients, pushing for marijuana liberalization. The distance between Boehner’s unfiltered Camel cigarettes and Kona Gold is shorter than the gulf between Republicans and Coke.
In the context of the Trump-induced insurrection on January 6, On the House presents a merlot indictment of Republican excesses and praises those who play with poise, regardless of party.
Nancy Pelosi receives support for “gutting” the late John Dingell, a high-ranking Midwestern Democrat, as a “halibut she found floating around San Francisco Bay.” Boehner posits that Pelosi may be the most powerful speaker of all time.
Similarly, Mitch McConnell gets a shout even after criticizing the author, saying, “I will never presume to know more about the House than you do. And believe me, you will never know as much about the Senate as I do. ” Boehner offers no refusal.
Boehner expresses contempt for Senator Ted Cruz and Mark Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman who became Donald Trump’s last chief of staff. As for Flyin ‘Ted, Boehner is relentless: “There’s nothing more dangerous than a reckless jerk who thinks he’s smarter than the rest.”
Not surprisingly, Boehner finds that the Cruz-led government shutdown in 2013 made no sense. On the other hand, the Republican Party regained the Senate a year later. Regardless, an audio clip of Boehner reading On the House concludes: “PS Ted Cruz: Fuck you. “
As for Meadows, Boehner campaigned for him, only for Meadows to oppose Boehner’s election as president and then offer a startling, water-eyed apology.
“I was wondering what his elite and uncompromising group of Freedom Caucus warriors would have made of their star organizer on the verge of tears,” writes Boehner. “But that was not my problem.”
On the House also serves up snippets of vaguely remembered history, such as Boehner’s attempt to turn the late Judge Antonin Scalia into Bob Dole’s Republican running mate against Bill Clinton in 1996. Boehner met with Scalia. Scalia was open to the idea, but Dole chose Jack Kemp, a former field marshal, congressman and cabinet official. The senator from Kansas did Scalia a favor. Dole lost a lot.
More disconcerting is Boehner’s continued embrace of Dick Cheney, George W. Bush’s vice president and former Wyoming congressman. In Boehner’s words, Cheney was a “phenomenal partner” to young Bush and the two made a “great team.” It does not mention Cheney’s role in the run-up to the Iraq war, although it does detail his own deliberations on the vote to authorize the Gulf War under Bush Sr.
When George W’s time in the White House ended, his relationship with Cheney had grown distant and uptight. The marriage of convenience came to an end. Maybe Boehner knows something that Cheney’s old boss doesn’t.
On the House offers a clearer assessment of Newt Gingrich’s strengths and weaknesses. Like Boehner, Gingrich was the speaker. He was also responsible for ending decades of Democratic control of the House. But Boehner crystallizes Gingrich’s inability to help run an egalitarian branch of government. Politics is not always tied to the dropping of bombs. Governing is the everyday. Gingrich couldn’t be bothered.
The book acknowledges the visceral hostility of the Republican base towards Barack Obama. After Boehner announced that he believed Obama was born in the United States, he suffered a storm of grief. The acceptance of fringe theories by the Republican Party is maintained.
Boehner describes his attempts to compromise with Obama on “tax issues” and immigration. On the first, he acknowledges Obama’s efforts. On the latter, he argues that Obama would “phone” and “poison the well” for the sake of partisan advantage.
According to the 2016 elections, Obama made a bad bet. Open borders are a lost proposition. On the other hand, so is opposing the Affordable Care Act amid an ongoing pandemic and the aftermath of the great recession. Specifically, Boehner takes credit for dismantling Obamacare “bit by bit,” pointing to the reversal of the tax on medical devices. Incredibly, he claims that “there really isn’t much left of Obamacare.”
Really? Boehner is definitely wrong.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the number of uninsured non-elderly Americans fell from more than 46.5 million in 2010 to less than 29 million in 2019. In addition, about 9 million purchase subsidized health insurance with federal premium assistance.
If the theatricality of the Trump administration and the Republican challenge pending before the Supreme Court teaches us anything, it is that Obamacare is very much alive. When it comes to government spending, Republican donors and constituencies don’t necessarily sing the same hymnal.
Like most people, Boehner’s relationship with Trump ended worse than it started. At first, Trump reached out. Less with the passage of time. Boehner attributed it to Trump being comfortable in his job, but also conjectures: “He got tired of me advising him to shut up.”
Days after the insurrection but before Biden’s inauguration, Boehner said Trump should consider resigning. The 45th president had “abused the loyalty of the people who voted for him” and incited a riot.
Boehner admits he was unprepared for the aftermath of Trump’s defeat. The insurrection “should have been a wake-up call for a return to republican sanity.” It was not. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, the QAnon congresswoman, has amassed a $ 3.2 million reelection war chest. The “legislative terrorism” that Boehner had witnessed helped give birth to “real terrorism.”
Boehner trusts Americans, “the most versatile people God put on earth.” As for the survival of the American conservative movement, he is less optimistic.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism