Speaker John Boehner on the Tonight Show

It’s the first time I’ve seen him in a relaxed interview. Leno got in some interesting questions about the shutdown and Obama Care. Boehner was pretty candid about the shutdown. That it was a mistake and he told his caucus that from the beginning.

part 1

part 2

So, who’s their leader, and why?

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen Boehner in a non-political context, and I didn’t like him. I wouldn’t want to have a beer with him.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a failure of Boehner’s leadership, but more that the House, in particular, and the GOP in general, is too divided ideologically to be leadable by anyone. No one can take the party anywhere until it makes up its mind on which way to go.

Part of a leader’s job is to make that happen, no?

And, if the party wants to go a different direction than their putative leader wants, doesn’t that mean someone else is truly the leader, not the guy deflecting blame and taking potshots after it’s over and failed? Pity that the House GOP leader has to be Ted Cruz of all people, though. What is the evidence, other than the official title he holds, that it’s actually Boehner?

Especially considering Cruz is a Senator.

A Congressional leader is not a boss. He works for his caucus, they don’t work for him. The reason he still has his job despite disagreeing with the shutdown is because he carried out his role as leader: he did what a majority of his caucus wanted.

That’s good to know, that a majority of the Republican caucus wants Boehner to cave to Obama.

“Good news, John, we’ve elected you our leader. And by ‘leader’ we of course mean someone who shuts up and does whatever he’s told.”

Now I see what you’re getting at. Only some in the party want to go in a different direction. I don’t know what Boehner could do to prevent them from following Cruz. The ideological split is so fundamental–run gov’t for the good of the country vs. drown gov’t in the bathtub–that I don’t see how either side can be convinced to lay down their arms. One of them will have to get wiped out in an election before the party can hope to achieve anything other than simply obstructing.

And by “cave to Obama” I assume you mean “act like a rational person with a logical level of self-interest instead of a temper-tantrum throwing child who would rather break all the toys than share.”

Um, this is what elected leaders do. Obama works for those who voted for him too, we don’t work for him.

Well, it’s more complicated than that, obviously, but Obama, just like Boehner, often has to cave to the realities of voter opinion. If his caucus wants to do something, he carries out their wishes. If the public wants something, the President also rushes to the nearest podium to say he’ll do it if he believes it to be to his political advantage. There are situations in both cases where a leader will do something his voters don’t want, of course.

Just making the point that an elected leader is not a boss. He serves.

Isn’t he the Speaker of the entire House? Wasn’t there a solid majority of the House with him against the shutdown? Well then, why did he refuse to hold a vote?

It’s called acting like adults. No, it’s not easy, but adults do it.

In a way, I feel bad for Agent Orange. He constantly feels his feet to the fire, knowing that if he abandons the Hastert Rule, his caucus will revolt and put someone truly batshit crazy in as Speaker. He could easily put together a coalition of Democrats and sane Republicans, but the insane Republicans won’t let him do it. So he’s left to cling to the illusion of power while his caucus happily dances to whatever tune the Teanuts happen to be playing.

Well, the Democrats could break with tradition and vote for Boehner as speaker in 2015. That way he’s beholden to them and they lose nothing since Pelosi can’t win anyway.

Here’s a better plan: let’s not empower the jackass who has set the full faith and credit of the nation on the table several times. Let’s instead just not vote for fucking lunatics!

Good question. If it was because the tea partiers threatened to take away his position as House Leader, I can only imagine that the new Speaker would have been a tea party guy, and the country would be even worse off. Just speculation, though, of course. Maybe Boehner just wants to keep the job so much that he’d blow Ted Cruz for it. I don’t know. Do you?

I agree 100 percent, and more!, but if someone can convince the tea party to act like adults, there should be some sort of national award for them. As the saying goes, you can’t use reason to change the mind of someone who came to an irrational conclusion (or something like that). The only way out of it that I see is the GOP getting its ass handed to it in a Congressional election. The GOP took the tea party into their fold to win elections, and only when they fail to win elections will they kick them out.

You’re positing that the remaining sane adult faction of the House GOP would faithfully vote for a Teahadist, rather than hold out their votes for an actual leader. That may be true, but it also means there really isn’t a sane adult faction after all, despite the number who are *reportedly *opposed to the bathtub-drowning agenda. It isn’t necessary to get the religious zealots of one party to act like adults if there is already an adult majority in the House, which does still seem to be the case.

I do agree that Boehner’s actions are more those of someone who simply wants a title than someone who actually wants to use his office’s power for something larger than himself. IOW, *not *those of a leader.

But how about a coalition of the Dems and the sane-adult Republicans, that adds up to a majority, agreeing to replace Boehner with a sane adult Republican? Not that I have a particular one in mind, but perhaps one would step forward.

Maybe they won’t need to. I heard tonight that Boehner has said he won’t block raising the debt ceiling whenever that comes around again. For whatever that’s worth.