There’s a fascinating, very sour interview on Salon.com with Adam Brandon, a leader of Freedom Works. That organization, somewhat defanged in the wake of an acrimonious split with its former leader, the former Texas Congressman Dick Armey, was nevertheless instrumental in forging right-wing discontent with Obamacare into pockets of astroturf activism around the country. More recently Freedom Works played a role in goading Republicans into following the Tea Party line over the shutdown and debt ceiling debacles. Brandon has ideas about the shutdown and House Speaker John Boehner’s motives during it that are worth considering,
I’m not sure if he’s going to be running for Speaker again. I wonder if that’s part of all of this as well. Why did – I mean the way it was crafted…You needed Democrats to pass this. And what I don’t understand is, if the plan all along was to put just basically a pretty clean CR out there and pass it with Democratic support, Democratic members, why even do it? Why not do this a month ago? Or were they actually trying to embarrass some people, or trying to cause this fight? I mean who knows. I don’t know why these things – if this was the plan all along, he should have started this at the very beginning, and just, “Hey, listen, we’re just going to pass this with Democratic votes.”
All along, observers were wondering what Boehner was up to. He looked weak, terrified of a small group of rabid right-wingers who were insisting on an all-or-nothing fight against Obamacare, which Boehner, being an old hand in DC, had to have known was a big fat turkey that was never going to fly. He would not be Speaker without the rabid right, but he would never be able to accomplish anything worthy of a legacy with them. The Tea Party coalition is the entire reason the Republicans have become the Party of No: No major legislation, no enabling of Obama, no compromise ever. Not much ammo there to stake a Speakership on.
Brandon’s paranoid theory actually makes a kind of sense, then. What if Boehner, realizing his legacy was doomed because of this awful hand he was dealt, decided, having nothing personally to lose, to take revenge on his tormentors on the right by giving them enough rope to hang themselves? What if he was thinking, if they’re going to tear me down, I’m taking them down with me?
Perhaps this is giving Boehner too much credit. But even if this were his intention, and even if it shows him to be more of a master Machiavellian than most had assumed, it doesn’t change the fact that the shutdown caused massive pain, to government employees, to families, to women with infants and children, to cancer patients, to people with disabilities, veterans, to local and national economies. He can’t be forgiven for that. But it would at least make his actions comprehensible. At least we would know, that cruel and heartless though he may be, he wasn’t motivated by sheer insanity.
- ZeroHedge: Obama: “John, What Happened”, Boehner: “I Got Overrun, That’s What Happened” (silveristhenew.com)
- Nancy Pelosi Busts John Boehner for Trying to Sabotage the Senate Debt Ceiling Deal (politicususa.com)
- Pelosi, Reid slam Boehner’s reckless effort to sabotage deal to end shutdown, avoid default (dailykos.com)
- Take a Bow, Mr. Speaker (dannyvinik.com)
- Insight: Budget fight leaves Boehner ‘damaged’ but still standing (reuters.com)
- Conservatives Now Love John Boehner After Dragging Him Into Shutdown Debacle (huffingtonpost.com)
- What if the Tea Party overthrows John Boehner? (salon.com)
I don’t think he’s that smart.
Evidence for the truth of what you argue is that a) he’s a Republican and b) he actually wanted to be Speaker of this House. I’m only suggesting that this is the most reasonable explanation for his behavior if his behavior was based on actual reason and not fear.
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