John Boehner as Loyal Corporate Shill

Alex PareeneWe can apparently credit Pope Francis for at least one good deed on his American tour: he has ended the suffering of an unhappy man. The miserable speakership of John Boehner is over.

It was not a distinguished tenure. His meager accomplishments came in spite of himself and to the great consternation of his Republican colleagues. He pinballed from one pathetic humiliation, usually at the hands of his own caucus, to the next. The only reason Boehner remained speaker for as long as he did — to his eternal regret, it is clear — is because his bitterest opponents were too stupid to figure out how to oust him, and his likeliest replacements never wanted the job…

So Boehner kept his job, and Congress staggered haplessly into the next crisis.

Because he was dealing with a Congressional caucus increasingly made up of ideologues and idiots, and because he was occasionally forced to betray conservatives in order to stave off catastrophes, moderate pundits occasionally speak, with some fondness, about John Boehner as a man who tried his best to keep his unruly conservative colleagues from doing too much damage.

There is no particular reason to feel any sympathy for the man.

John Boehner was and is an unprincipled ward-heeler who simply couldn’t weather the transition of the Republican Party from a corporatist party with a sizable conservative base to a purely conservative party. Boehner came to power when the priorities of the House Republican caucus were driven by what was effectively straight-up bribery, and his power came from his close ties to industry lobbies. This is the guy, as we all ought to be regularly reminded, who passed out checks from tobacco companies on the floor of the House…

Each one of his major legislative compromises as speaker — and even from before he was speaker, like when then-Minority Leader Boehner tearfully begged his Republican colleagues to vote for the 2008 bank bailout — represented Boehner defying the conservative base to act in the interests of the Republican donor class…

It’s long past time for Boehner to get the hell out of Washington and settle into the plush industry “consulting” gig that surely awaits him.

—Alex Pareene
Don’t Cry For John Boehner

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