The situation is almost surreal. A small group of Republicans want to shut down government to try to stop government funding of Planned Parenthood. Not that Planned Parenthood had done anything illegal, but this is part of the on going anti-abortion crusade, this time fed by videos showing officials of the organization un-emotional over the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses for on going medical experiments. There is nothing wrong with that practice either – better that than just throw it away – but for the zealots that was enough.
Never mind that if that funding was cut – 40% of Planned Parenthood’s budget comes from federal funds, mostly Medicaid – there would probably be a large increase in abortions since so many poor benefit from the contraception services the organization provides – a much more important part of their operation than abortions. Never mind as well that the President would veto the action, and a shut down would probably hurt the 2016 Republicans as much as the 1995 shutdown hurt the GOP in 1996. Zealots rarely give in to rational thought.
Both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell recognized that their moral duty was to govern, and not risk the horrid effects of a shutdown over this quixotic fight. While McConnell has most of the Senate on his side (only a whiney Ted Cruz strongly disagrees), Boehner faced a full uprising from House Conservatives, about three or four dozen who want to fight this jihad rather than compromise and govern.
And these members, as well as many conservative media sources like Rush Limbaugh and redstate.com, routinely attack Boehner with a vengeance, denigrating him and calling him a lackey to Obama, all because he recognized the limits of divided government. These people, so frothy in their fervor, don’t understand that they are not only a minority in the GOP, but a detriment to a party that hopes to regain the White House in 2016. The Democrats have no strong Presidential candidates on the horizon, this could be a big GOP year if they don’t blow it.
Boehner had enough.
He has been fighting this fight for four years, since he became speaker (he joined the House in 1990). He has survived despite vilification from the right wing, in large part because most Republicans respect him and know he has conservative values. He choose to leave at a time no one expected, but which seems appropriate.
We don’t yet know when he made the decision. I wonder if, listening to the Pontiff talk about the need to govern and compromise, he realized he needed to extricate himself from a caucus in complete disarray. Maybe he decided that this was an appropriate ending point for his career – he has wanted a Papal address to Congress for years, starting back when John Paul II was Pope – the visit of the head of a Catholic Church that means much to him.
Boehner was crucified by his caucus because he wanted to do the right thing – make compromises and govern, recognizing that the Democrats weren’t an enemy to be annihilated, but a necessary part of a democracy that runs well only when there are diverse perspectives which are listened to and respected. With inbred blogs and media pushing emotional themes and making compromise look like surrender, he was humiliated every day for trying to do the job of Speaker of the House properly.
He deserved better. He took a lot of bullets for the GOP, he made compromises that were necessary. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the news of Boehner’s departure “seismic” and it seems a clear indicator of the dysfunction within the majority party. He will no doubt push the hated compromise through, doing his duty to the democracy he serves and avoiding a catastrophic government shutdown. Already firebrand Cruz is attacking him, even as other Republicans praise his service, and former Presidential candidate John McCain expresses sorrow over his departure.
The Republicans, already wounded by the bizarre media behavior of people like Trump and Carson, have just over a year to get their act together and show Americans they are a responsible conservative party, not a group of loons wanting to shut down the government over one organization’s funding. With Clinton’s woes, they should be in a much better position then they are. It’s time for the majority of Republicans to take back their party from the extremists. That would be best for the GOP, and best for the country.
#1 by lbwoodgate on September 25, 2015 - 16:23
“I wonder if, listening to the Pontiff talk about the need to govern and compromise, he realized he needed to extricate himself from a caucus in complete disarray.”
That or the Pope’s call to engage in moral and ethical issues rather than gridlock were instrumental in opening his eyes.
So God help us all if Louie Gohmert of Texas gets the Speaker job.
#2 by Oliver Q. on September 25, 2015 - 17:18
I think this is a very well reasoned perspective. I certainly am curious to see who will become the best speaker, but I have little hope that it’ll be someone even close to the idea of “moderate.”
#3 by List of X on September 25, 2015 - 21:34
I don’t know if Boehner really deserves better. It’s his choice to resign, so it’s not like he’s the victim here. And as the speaker who made heavy use of the Hastert rule (don’t bring a bill for a vote unless it has a majority party support), he contributed a lot to the Washington gridlock in the last 5 years, presiding over three of the least productive Congresses in history, with work schedule of barely 100 workdays in a year.
In other words, I won’t be too upset about his resignation.
#4 by SShiell on September 26, 2015 - 00:26
I wonder if you think Boehner deserves better is really because he was so inept at any opposition to the progressive cause? I find it somewhat funny that when Sarah Palin resigned, she was widely reviled for “quitting” by the left but Boehner seems to be getting sympathetic noises from the Left. By resigning, he is getting what he deserves – nothing more and nothing less.
The more appropriate question is “What does he deserve?” From the left there should be a dirge playing because he was completely ineffective in any opposition to the Obama Regime’s direction and there should be concern that his successor will be more effective. From the right, there are cheers because many feel they wasted their votes in 2014 giving the GOP the House and Senate because opposition to the current Regime was what was promised and what has not happened.
There is a reason non-politicals like Trump, Carson, and Fiorina are getting traction and that is because the right feels betrayed by the political class. And until someone from the political class shows the stones to stand up for what the right has voted for, then these very same non-politicals will continue to dominate the current nomination campaign. I only see money as the immediate limiting factor for Carson or Fiorina – not so much Trump. (Note: I am not saying I am a Trump supporter but I understand the anger that is causing his rise in the polls.)
#5 by SShiell on September 26, 2015 - 15:42
“That would be best for the GOP, and best for the country.”
This last comment from you entry is the real laugher!!! What would you, a devoted progressive, know what is best for the GOP? You would like nothing more than the GOP to become Democrat-Lite. And that is the real reason Boehner is resigning – Democrat-Lite is not what the GOP is nor what it should be. Do you really want to know what is best for the GOP? Ask a conservative, not a progressive college professor.
#6 by Norbrook on September 27, 2015 - 10:43
Why would a liberal think of what’s best for the Republican Party? Simply put, because we need two functional major parties to run the government. What “conservatives” are is a small part of the electorate, who have no interest in governing, and as a result of their takeover of the Republican Party, are rapidly turning it into a minor party, that will play no major role in the future.
#7 by lbwoodgate on September 28, 2015 - 07:25
” I will wear it proudly in this hallowed progressive echo chamber”
But of course. Wouldn’t expect anything else from someone who lives in a glass house and throws rocks at others
#8 by lbwoodgate on September 27, 2015 - 12:15
I think we can make it official now. SShiell is a legitimate troll
#9 by SShiell on September 27, 2015 - 13:28
#10 by SShiell on September 27, 2015 - 14:42
God forbid anyone would make a comment that is not consistent with the echo chamber you want, there Woody. There are opposing views in this country and if having such views makes me a troll – then I will gladly take on that title.
And with that, you go have a nice day.
#11 by lbwoodgate on September 28, 2015 - 07:01
Opposing views offer something constructive other than demonizing their perceived enemies or laughing at them. You mock Scott’s perception of Boehner as if somehow your insight is more lofty and righteous. The presumption that “a devoted progressive” cannot illustrate what is wrong with the GOP is a closed-minded approach and demonstrates an unwillingness to think outside the box.
Your put down of this essay is typical of trolls. Sorry of you don’t like the distinction but as they say, if the shoe fits …
#12 by SShiell on September 28, 2015 - 07:17
“Sorry if you don’t like the distinction but as they say, if the shoe fits …”
Fits like a glove and as I said, if that be your criteria then I will wear it proudly in this hallowed progressive echo chamber.