House Speaker John Boehner surprised the political world with his announcement that he would be leaving Congress at the end of October, though his eventual departure was a fait accompli as the Ohioan had proven unwilling to “go to the mattresses” to enact conservative policies over the opposition of the Obama Administration.
To a large degree, the task of advancing the agenda required more than simply the election of more Republicans to Congress, a remedy the RNC and others disingenuously sold to grassroots donors and activists in the past three federal election cycles.
President Obama was not going to negotiate in good faith with a party being blockaded by Harry Reid in the Senate and vilified by the networks, print media and Daily Show.
A good bit of Boehner’s problems stemmed from when he came to Congress and how he came to being speaker.
Boehner was elected to the US House of Representatives when the eternal Republican minority leader Bob Michel presided over a feckless caucus going on its 36th year since Republicans had a controlled the House. It was a compromise oriented political faction that managed to play a supporting role during a Republican administration and relegated to only cameo appearances when the other side was in the White House.
In 1994, Gingrich was the commander in chief of the political insurgency while in 2010 Boehner was little more than the beneficiary of a political groundswell, disconnected from the grassroots political forces responsible for his new title.
Boehner thought he owed his gavel to the caucus not the TEA Party activists who provided the electoral support that put the GOP into the majority.
Fighting a Democratic White House was not in Boehner’s political DNA and when he went big-game hunting the speaker came back from the savanna with little more than smushed mosquitos on his arm.
ObamaCare is still here. Obama’s unilateral non-enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws remains the de facto “non-law” of the land. And federal subsidies continue to fund Planned Parenthood’s fetal abattoirs.
Boehner did follow in the footsteps of a different speaker when he came down on a bunch of congressmen in his own caucus who committed the crime of voting too conservatively. Unfortunately, the speaker he emulated was Democrat Tom Foley.
The highlight of the Boehner speakership was a visit by an international figure who delivered a stirring speech from the House Clerk’s desk. I’m not referring to the address to Congress by Pope Francis but the one given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decrying the nuclear deal with Iran.
About the only other thing Boehner has to show for his almost five years as speaker is that the federal government is not wasting money at the Democrats’ preferred clip of deficit spending.
Apparently Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich couldn’t think of anything either while appearing on the Sunday morning news shows when he failed to cite a single accomplishment Boehner produced as speaker. Kasich had to keep running back to the Gingrich speakership for his talking points, a greater indictment of Boehner than anything served up by Mark Levin in his radio show.
For conservatives who hoped for fundamental change in government with a Republican Congress during the Obama presidency, the Boehner Era was the equivalent of losing the game but covering the spread; pointless for the team (the base), but great for the bookies (special interests).
The shameless Left has tried to make Boehner out to be a martyr as they cry crocodile tears and hurl bouquets at his feet as he exits the well of the House.
Boehner was run out by extremists within his party, shriek a Democratic Party that got bought and paid for by the radical Move On types in the previous decade. The same folks advancing this canard are propelling an avowed socialist to become the standard bearer of a party he refused to affiliate with.
Of course the only Republicans Democrats express any regard for are those who failed to beat them.
To use the parlance of the Godfather, Boehner was not a wartime speaker.
For all of his faults, and there were many that undermined his political ambitions and his grip on the speaker’s gavel, Gingrich produced legislation that became law and vastly improved federal budgets in his brief yet spectacular time in power during a Democratic administration.
Boehner might have been a successful speaker had he ruled from the rostrum under a Republican White House. Boehner proved to be the wrong man, in the wrong office at the wrong time.
Hopefully the next speaker will have something more substantive than a papal visit to show for his or her time leading Congress.