Now that Republicans have agreed to make Paul Ryan Speaker of the House of Representatives, one era has ended and another begun.
And so a story of great and frequent humiliation comes to an end. Boehner has published the definitive fantasy version of his career at speaker.gov, and given his farewell address, which also has more fiction than fact holding its tenuous threads together:
My colleagues, I rise today to inform you that I will resign as Speaker of the House effective upon the election of my successor.
I will also resign as Representative of Ohio’s Eighth District at the end of this month.
I leave with no regrets or burdens. If anything, I leave as I started – just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job.
That’s what I’m most proud of – that I’m still just me…
But before I go, let me just express what an honor it is been to serve with all of you.
The people’s House is, in my view, the great embodiment of the American idea.
That idea being, apparently, the non-functioning of the federal government and a rejection of the scientific underpinnings of our universe that is an embarrassment to all the world.
And this, coming from the most do-nothing Congress ever:
Everyone comes from somewhere and is on some mission.
I come from a part of the world where we’re used to working.
He seems also to have come from a part of the world where people don’t take responsibility for their own actions, like when he declined to take responsibility for one of the least productive congresses ever.
And then, while refusing to vote, being part of a Congress that gave themselves more vacation days and accepting – heck, demanding – their pay while refusing to work.
That’s some ethic.
As if this farcical collection of lies is not enough, he goes on to pretend to some accomplishments during his time as Speaker. Other than suing the president for refusing to do what they wanted him to do, that is:
And it wasn’t so much a calling as it was a mission: to strive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government in Washington, DC.
How did we do?
Well, here are some facts….
For the first time in nearly 20 years, we have made real entitlement reforms, saving trillions over the long term.
We have protected 99 percent of Americans from tax increases.
We are on track to save taxpayers $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years – the most significant spending reductions in modern history.
We have banned earmarks altogether.
We have protected this institution and made it more open to the people.
And every day in this capital city, hundreds of kids from the toughest of neighborhoods are finally getting a decent education.
I am proud of these things.
But the mission is not complete, and the truth is, it may never be…
One thing I came to realize is that this battle over the size and scope of government has been going on for more than 200 years.
And the forces of the status quo go to an awful lot of trouble to prevent change. Real change takes time.
That’s certainly true for all the things I just mentioned.
The clarion call to freedom which follows strikes a wrong chord for a body that seems determined to limit freedom to an elite few:
Yes, freedom makes all things possible.
But patience is what makes all things real.
So believe in the long, slow struggle.
Believe in this country’s ability to meet her challenges, and lead the world.
Believe in the decency of people to come together and do what can be done.
And remember, you can’t do a big job alone, especially this one.
He goes on to conclude:
My colleagues, I’ve described my life as a chase for the American Dream.
That chase began at the bottom of a hill just off the main drag in Reading, Ohio.
At the top was a small house with a big family … a shining city in its own right.
The hill had twists. And it had turns. And even a few tears … nothing wrong with that.
But let me tell you, it was all just perfect.
Never forget, we are the luckiest people on the face of the Earth.
In America, you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices.
If you falter – and you will – you can just dust yourself off and keep on going.
Because hope always springs eternal.
And if you just do the right things for the right reasons, good things will happen.
And this, too, really can happen to you…
Good things will happen indeed… Like losing your job because of the extremists in your party who had less respect for you even than your political opponents.
The truth is somewhat more sordid, and a great deal less inspiring. Alexander the Great never lost a battle. John Boehner never won one. He got slapped around by all and sundry and earned no respect from either side of the aisle as he endeavored to look tough standing up to House Democrats and President Obama, while never quite being tough enough.
John Boehner will not be missed.
If you look at Boehner’s record, it is easy to see why.
It is the end of an era. Yet you will hear no lamentation because he will not be missed by his own party. Nor much celebration, because his opponents know nothing good will come of his leaving.
For what is broken remains broken. The sword is still in the stone and none can yank it out. The suck from below is too great, and not a Republican living has the right stuff.
We just saw John Kasich sign his own political death warrant Tuesday at a rally in Ohio, when he asked, “What has happened to our party? What has happened to the conservative movement?”
It’s become a collection point for every extremist position possible, that’s what. This is not news to John Boehner. He is leaving for that very reason, after all. Mitch McConnell may follow, and Paul Ryan too, sooner rather than later, and no Republican will see the inside of the Oval Office in the foreseeable future.
There is plenty of blame to go around and no small share of it attaches itself to John Boehner, who let the crazies take over the House on his watch. He could have stood up to them at the beginning. Somebody, somewhere in the Republican Party should have done that.
It’s too late now. For Boehner, and for the Republican Party he tried to represent.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.