The Real Reasons For Boehner's Resignation

A Murky Political Water

In the Book of Leviticus a priest would confess all the sins of the Israelites over the head of a goat, and then drive it into the wilderness. Symbolically this bore their sins away on the day of Atonement. That symbolism seems to be rearing its head in the latest political fall-guy in our nation's capitol.
A Republican freind of mine, active in the party on a deep level, recently came running up to me. He was absolutely giddy about the recent resignation of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner.
This euphoria is widespread. A recent video shows a room full of Republican voters interrupting a speech by Republican Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio. Why? They gave a standing ovation at the news that the GOP House Speaker had been forced to resign. As the caption for the video says: "2016 candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, told conservatives gather at the Value Voters Summit that House Speaker John Boehner would step down from his post in Congress -- and the audience went wild." 

They simply didn't have the numbers 

 Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to why removing Boehner is some kind of victory. In a stark example, conservative writer Erick Erickson penned a column titled "Why John Boehner Had To Go." But the writer fails to actually name or describe anything the speaker did wrong. His only argument is nebulous and nonsensical. The accusation is that Boehner held his own party "in contempt."

The facts are basic and clear. Republicans failed to block Obama’s transformation of this country. But a major statistic is consistently being missed. There are not enough conservative votes to derail filibusters from Democrats or to counter vetoes from the White House. "The idea that this can be overcome through sheer force of will (the argument conservatives are making in favor of another shutdown fight) is just another version of [the "Big Lie"]," writes popular blogger RETIII.

A recent Fox News poll unwittingly captures this problem. 60 percent of Republicans feel betrayed by their party, according to the news outlet. But that 66 percent does not believe the GOP did all it could to block Obama’s agenda. The poll asks why respondents think their party leaders did not rise to the ocassion: Choices included: they didn’t really want to stop Obama; they weren’t smart enough; they would rather fight each other. But the poll doesn’t even offer respondents the option of choosing the actual problem. reason. Structurally, Republicans are too short of necessary votes.

 Flawed Reasoning

In a WSJ/NBC poll "72% of Republican primary voters said they were dissatisfied with the ability of Boehner and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell to achieve Republican goals." But that phrase - failure "to achieve Republican goals" - is loaded with flaws. Why So Much Anger? A large number of Republicans, including presidential candidates, say Boehner failed to stop Obamacare (something he alone does not have the power to do). He has also been accused of helping The Affordable Care Act.

Mike Huckabee said, "When people sent [Republicans] here, they didn't send them to give the president more power on Obamacare[.]"


 Let's ponder that further for a bit. The right has enacted complete legislative obstruction. They oversaw a government shut-down. They voted to repeal the massive healthcare law more than 50 times. In addition to the two lawsuits before the Supreme Court, others are pending. And scores of candidates have used the podium of the next presidential election for the fight. Nonetheless, Boehner haters are incensed, fueled by the notion that he has worked with the President to strengthen Obamacare.

Reality and Fantasy

 A scapegoat is a person or animal which takes on the sins of others, or is unfairly blamed for problems. John Boehner and the Republicans overall never had the votes to impose Republican policies. As Phillip Bump notes, the only "compromises" Boehner made "have been between reality and fantasy." Is there some kind of "Boehner Rule" or "Hastert Rule" that makes Democratic House votes null and void?