I had no idea Boehner was such a jerk

There was an interesting piece yesterday in The Washington Post about how divided the House Republicans are these days, headlined, “House Republicans broken into fighting factions.”

It provided an in-the-room perspective of recent battles within the caucus, such as the meeting on New Year’s Day in which Speaker Boehner told the caucus he was going to vote for the tax deal with the Democrats, and his two top lieutenants said they would vote against it, and a representative from Tennessee shouted, “If you’re for this and they’re against, we’ve got problems.”

As I said, interesting piece. I’ve felt a good bit of sympathy for Mr. Boehner over the last couple of years as he has tried to lead the House despite the open opposition of the Tea Party faction. But I lost all sympathy when I got to this part of the story:

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, House Republicans filed into the same Capitol basement room, HC5, where they fought on New Year’s Day. They filtered past clearly marked NO SMOKING signs — which, as always, the Camel-smoking Boehner ignored — and settled into the same hard plastic chairs that have served as Washington’s toughest ideological fault line of the past 30 months.

OK, maybe I’m the last person in America to know this about Boehner, but I find that shocking.

I would think any member of the Congress who so blatantly ignored a rule in place for the health of other people to be beyond the pale. But for a leader to do it — for someone in chargeto demonstrate that he is entitled to indulge his own noxious habit to the detriment of the health of everyone around him, even though others have to follow the rules…

That’s just breathtaking. So to speak. I’m stunned.

No wonder nobody wants to follow that guy.

12 thoughts on “I had no idea Boehner was such a jerk

  1. Doug Ross

    This article by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone from 2011 pretty much captured all the slimy awfulness of Boehner. He and Pelosi are awful, awful, awful people. Corrupt to the core.


    “The Democrats have plenty of creatures like Boehner. But in the new Speaker of the House, the Republicans own the perfect archetype — the quintessential example of the kind of glad-handing, double-talking, K Street toady who has dominated the politics of both parties for decades. In sports, we talk about athletes who are the “total package,” and that term comes close to describing Boehner’s talent for perpetuating our corrupt and debt-addled status quo: He’s a five-tool insider who can lie, cheat, steal, play golf, change his mind on command and do anything else his lobbyist buddies and campaign contributors require of him to get the job done.”

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-the-crying-shame-of-john-boehner-20110105#ixzz2VOkP7Rex
    Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

  2. Jeff Morrell

    Have you thought about the fact that Boehner is well known as a smoker and has been tolerated by his peers as such? I have friends who are smokers and though I despise the habit, I would never consider them “jerks”. If I recall correctly, Boehner is knowingly granted an accommodation on this issue.

  3. bud

    Brad I really don’t understand why you find this so surprising. The Republicans, including Boehner, have been behaving in this outrageous manner since the mid 90s. The more power they gain the worse off the average American becomes. I’m actually far more outraged at Darrell Issa and his witch hunt crusade than Boehner’s smoking addiction. Until the Democrats start to win a few mid-term elections we will continue to flounder as a nation and our march toward a Plutocracy will procede. So rather than worry about smoking or some trivial matter like Lillian McBride we should be focusing on what’s really important, the death of the middle class. Just check this out and see how much trouble we’re in as a nation:


  4. Rose

    Brad, where have you been? I think it’s been pretty obvious for a while.
    And you’re shocked that members of Congress ignore the rules? I’d be shocked if they followed them.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    I must not have been clear, based on Jeff’s and Bud’s comments.

    I said nothing about Boehner being a smoker. I spoke of him abusing the power of his position to make an exception of himself, in an extremely, literally in-your-face manner, confined with a lot of people less powerful than he is, in an underground, windowless room.

    This isn’t about smoking. This is about leadership. And for a leader to behave in that manner, not only so blatantly breaking the rules but forcing a couple of hundred other people to smoke along with him (because that’s what he’s doing) is inexcusable.

    Most of us in this country today are fortunate enough not to be forced to inhale other peoples’ smoke, beyond walking through a cloud or two on our way in or out of some buildings. But if you get elected to Congress as a Republican, you’re taken into a windowless room with Boehner and forced to breathe his smoke through long, tense meetings.

    And the operative fact here is that Boehner is THE GUY IN CHARGE. This just breaks every rule of leadership. No one in his right mind would respect or follow a leader who would behave this way.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Interestingly, Hitler did the opposite. He took his followers down into a windowless bunker and wouldn’t LET them smoke.

      That did not make him a good person. In fact, it was kind of an imposition on people in 1945, particularly under such stressful conditions. In his way, he was being a self-centered ass much the way Boehner is. But you know, you expect that kind of “the hell with everybody else” behavior from Fuhrers. Not so much from legislative leaders in a republic.

    2. bud

      Ok, I’m convinced, Boehner is a jerk. All I’m saying is there are other examples of his jerkism that are more profound.

  6. Burl Burlingame

    Boehner and Pelosi may be two of a kind, but there is a crucial difference. Under Pelosi, the House actually got things done. Under Boehner, legislators no longer legislate. Refusing to hear bipartisan bills is just the tip of the iceberg.

  7. Nadine Zachary

    Of course nobody is perfect, and I doubt if anyone can name a President who fulfilled ALL his campaign promises. I, for one, am not entirely unhappy with President Obama’s performance. But then I’m taking into consideration how difficult Boehner has made almost everything he has attempted to do. Republican’s seem to be especially unaware of his crap. He has all but said he opposes ideas based merely on the fact that they were those of the Presidents. He’s gone out of his way to be a big pain in the ass. During the last State of the Union, he sat behind President Obama with a hateful look, almost mumbling to himself, just waiting for something he could twist around and blame the President for. The first time ever that out government shut down, he was a strong force leading the opposition. The smoking thing doesn’t surprise me, Boehner isn’t exactly a term player. His attitude is more along the lines of “do as i say, not as I do”.


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