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Book Review: ‘On the House’, by John Boehner


That partisanship, rather than reform, drove his actions quickly became clear at the time. Boehner, who is now a lobbyist for the cannabis industry, allayed most of his concerns about political civility after the Republicans came to power in 1994. He himself emerged at the center of the money connection. private sector, corporate lobbyists and political parties.

It’s not just that Boehner took money and hired staff from interest groups. He was part of the Republican leadership that launched the famous K Street project, which created a revolving door between lobbyists and party loyalists. When the best staff left their jobs, they were immediately hired by special interest groups who relied on them for access to Capitol Hill; as a Republican leader, Boehner played his part. He led the Thursday group, which brought together lobbyists and lawmakers. In 1996, Boehner was caught handing out campaign checks from the tobacco industry in the House when subsidies to the industry were being considered; Boehner dismisses the incident, saying times were different.

Barely the reform trick. Boehner’s commitment to the issues was also not very pure. He insulted himself against higher debt when Democrats were in the White House, less when George W. Bush was president.

The former speaker is determined to wipe his hands off the radicals who now dominate his party. The memoir creates a gap between the Republican universe before and after 2008. “None of us was crazy – well most of us were not anyway – and we also knew our limits”, note- he does. Even in 2009, he insists, the bones of the traditional party were still there. Boehner claims there was a “group” of Republicans who would have voted for Obama’s stimulus bill if only he had consulted them. This argument comes from a leader whose Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell has promised to make Obama a president for one term. It also twists an administration that has gone overboard, to the dismay of the Liberals, to negotiate with a party bent on obstruction.

The artificiality of this divide is particularly evident in Boehner’s discussion of conservative media. While acknowledging that the world of Fox News is now a conspiracy theory “Looneyville”, Boehner insists things were different. Although Bob Grant once wished that Haitian immigrants would drown and Rush Limbaugh would attack “feminazis,” Boehner tells us that the right-wing waves were previously tamed.

Indeed, Boehner is a prime example of how the Republican establishment has made peace with power-seeking extremists. By describing the young conservatives in 2008, he shows that he understood what he was dealing with, referring to the Republicans of “Crazytown” who tried that year to reverse President Bush’s stimulus package. And two years later, he recalls, “you could be a total jerk and get elected just by having an R next to your name.” Yet during that same campaign, Boehner helped provide financial support to the Tea Party candidates and hailed them as “the latest example of how the Tea Party movement has done a great service to this nation.” Although Boehner continued to be haunted by memories of his right-wing ousting in 1998, he knew that controlling rabies could be an effective tactic.



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