John Boehner served as GOP House speaker from 2011 through late 2015, when he left Washington, D.C. altogether. Importantly to him, that was before Donald Trump had finished engineering his takeover of the Republican Party.
“That was fine by me because I’m not sure I belonged to the Republican Party he created,” Boehner writes in his soon-to-be released book, “On the House: A Washington Memoir,” according to The Washington Post.
Let’s be clear: Boehner was an utter failure as speaker—remembered for almost nothing other than being overrun by the early elements of the House Freedom Caucus that served as harbingers of the Trump era. The only reason his memoir has any political relevance today is the fact that it serves as an internal barometer of just how far the party has sunk and whether, in its current iteration, it can win the votes of anyone but aggrieved Trump voters. Because whatever we at Daily Kos might think of Boehner, he was the type of GOP politician who appealed to Republican base voters in the suburbs. And whatever we think of Boehner, it’s hard to imagine him running down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring of Trump, à la Kevin McCarthy—the man who seems open to doing pretty much anything to become the next GOP speaker of the House.
In fact, here’s what Boehner thinks of his electoral prospects within the present-day GOP were he still a lawmaker today: “I don’t even think I could get elected in today’s Republican Party anyway. I don’t think Ronald Reagan could either.”
Boehner, who finished the book before the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, also made sure to skewer Trump in some quick rewrites of certain sections.
“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. He claimed voter fraud without any evidence,” Boehner wrote, calling the Capitol riot “a low point” for the country.
He also made this apt assessment, drawing a through line between the Freedom Caucus cranks who first overran House Republicans and the Trumpers who stormed the Capitol. “The legislative terrorism that I’d witnessed as speaker had now encouraged actual terrorism,” Boehner said.
Of course, that legislative terrorism didn’t come out of nowhere. It was an outgrowth of decades of Republicans flooding their base with disinformation to the point where now, GOP lawmakers themselves have fallen prey to their own echo chamber of funhouse mirrors.
Based on the Post’s book review, Boehner doesn’t appear to take any responsibility for helping to create the current sorry state of affairs for the GOP, but he doesn’t mince words about just how off the rails the party had already gone by the time he became speaker of the House in Barack Obama’s first term.
It was “Crazytown,” Boehner writes, and “when I took the Speaker’s gavel in 2011, two years into the Obama presidency, I became its mayor. Crazytown was populated by jackasses, and media hounds, and some normal citizens as baffled as I was about how we got trapped inside the city walls. Every second of every day since Barack Obama became president I was fighting one batshit idea after another.”
Finally, Boehner had some advice for voters who actually want Washington to work: “Send people there to represent you who actually want to get things done instead of hucksters making pie-in-the-sky promises or legislative terrorists just looking to go to Washington and blow everything up.”
Boehner doesn’t seem to have directed that advice at Republicans specifically, but since the GOP is the only party electing hucksters like Trump and trying to “blow everything up” just for kicks, it seems fair to assume it’s mainly directed at GOP voters. Of course, any advice as reasonable as that is obviously DOA with Republicans voters in, for instance, the rural Georgia district of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
So we can only conclude that Boehner’s advice has one potential audience: the very suburban GOP voters who have proven to be slightly more suspicious about the direction of the Republican Party under Trump.
And where those voters are concerned, the more erstwhile establishment Republicans who decry the current nature of the GOP, the better for Democrats.