News portals are rocking today with the unexpected announcement of the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner. The Ohio congressman will step down from his leadership position at the end of next month, on the heels of a barbed conflict with some fellow Republicans over risking even a potential government shutdown in order to shut down government funding of Planned Parenthood.
Since his ascendency to the top spot in 2011, Boehner has often been a source of disappointment and exasperation to Constitutionalists and conservatives who feel he’s squandered not a few opportunities to leverage GOP control of the lower chamber to stymie Barack Obama and Democrats in general. Boehner has consequently faced uprisings and even a challenge or two to his speakership from members of his own party. That said, today’s move came as a bombshell.
It is classless and unbecoming to dance a jig on the career wreckage of an “adversary”, so I’ll resist the urge. But neither should those of us increasingly alarmed by America’s accelerating downward spiral offer gloppy cover for the soon-to-be-former speaker’s Obama-enabling complicity in it.
Several years ago, while attending a DC gathering composed primarily of pastors, Christian leaders, and other denizens of the much-vilified “Religious Right”, I heard John Boehner speak in person. I confess, I didn’t know a whole lot about the man at that time — this was preceding his days as top GOP dog — but I distinctly recall being thoroughly unimpressed with what I heard; even more, what I sensed. Looking up at him at the podium, I quietly wondered, Why are several minutes of our precious and limited time being dedicated to this man’s addressing us? and What exactly, if anything, does he “bring to the table” of our very grave concerns for the nation?
He rambled on for a bit about nothing terribly memorable, certainly nothing inspiring. He seemed, truth be told, a pleasant enough chap but perhaps a bit uncomfortable being among us; trotted out what I was soon enough to discover was a familiar reminiscence about his growing up the son of a bartender (a rather odd touch, I mused, among a roomful of what were likely majority tea-totalers); and then he left the stage.
I honestly tried to discount my initial misgivings as hastily drawn and unfair — but, turns out, they were quickly, lamentably and repeatedly validated.
Capitulation and accommodation to the statist Left and to the Big-Government Republican establishment became the hallmarks of his tenure as speaker.
Boehner is clearly an emotional fellow, His characteristic public weeping — at one time a somewhat endearing indicator of a guy who, despite his rumbling, tobacco-conditioned baritone, might have a sensitive heart — eventually devolved into unsettling proxy for his temperamental weakness and ineffectiveness. As captain of House Republicans, he was supposed to, and had pledged to, act as a brake on the hard-charging, progressive Democratic opposition. Too predictably, he did not.
Ted Cruz said of his resignation: “I will say the early reports are discouraging. If it is correct that the Speaker, before he resigns, has cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to fund the Obama administration for the rest of it’s tenure, to fund Obamacare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, to fund implementation of this Iran deal, and then presumably to land in a cushy K Street job after joining with Democrats to implement all of President Obama’s priorities, that is not the behavior one would expect of a Republican speaker of the House.”
President Obama had reason today to wax warmly over the sixty-five year old Ohioan. Boehner pretty much made it easy for our far-left Chief Executive to have his way for the past four years. Why wouldn’t a grateful Obama say nice things about him?
Having said that, it turns out Speaker Boehner is concluding his term as head of Congress’s lower chamber on an honorable note: In the formal statement of his resignation, he said, “It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.”
Ultimately, then, John Boehner did what he needed to do. Should have happened a while ago, but today he made it happen. Kudos and well wishes to him for that.
Heir apparent to Boehner? Current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — who gives every impression of being cut from the same ideological, go-along-to-get-along cloth as his departing boss. True enough, he’s younger, perhaps a bit more jovial and thus, presumably less lachrymose than his predecessor. But, like John Boehner, should McCarthy move up to the speakership and completely bungle the opportunity to stand against Team Obama and for the values Republicans are supposed to represent — he may end up having reasons of his own to shed some tears.