Rove-Stupid: Beltway Thinking Explains the Epic Failure of Ex-Speaker John Boehner 

Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, holds up a box of tissues as he gives a farewell speech from the House floor at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, October 29, 2015. US Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, is expected to become the new Speaker …
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

John Boehner unwittingly explained his epically failed Speakership and the entire GOP establishment mindset when he babbled the words  “the first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love.”

Uh, excuse me John – but no, that’s not even close to being the first job of any Speaker. In fact, it’s not even part of the job description at all. And just who is this “we” that love this “institution?” I think we know. They’re the same people who think that Paul Ryan is the best choice to replace the Speaker, for example.

Credit Boehner with succinctness though, as those fifteen little words pretty much sum it up. Never has someone so orange said so little and yet exposed so much about why so many so failed.

These are notions that can only seep out of someone so immersed in the Washington political/media/social culture that they no longer have any idea why they are there. The Tea Party/conservative base still has a pretty good idea of why they (are supposed to be) there however, which is why Boehner and Karl Rove coordinated attacks on their own base as reported by numerous Breitbart contributors three years ago. More on that in a minute, but suffice it to say that Boehner and Rove are kindred spirits on this and they very much like being part of this “we” – and are willing to go to extreme measures to protect their status.

And by “we,” the Republican establishment obviously means members of Congress, staffers, lobbyists and the media mavens that are in the same orbit. They are the only ones in love with “this institution.” Speaker Boehner apparently thought his job had nothing to do with that other “we” – you know, as in “We the People.” Evidently our only job is to pay for this madness and then watch House of Cards and swoon at how cool all these people are while they get rich and destroy the country. In the words of Ted Cruz, this is the “Washington cartel.” This is the same cartel behind the draft Paul Ryan for Speaker movement as well.

Not that any of this is surprising, except perhaps in degree. On the very night in 2010 that Boehner was elevated to Speaker-in-waiting, he was brought to tears. That would have been appropriate perhaps had the tears been inspired by the amazing mandate the voters had just provided to stop ObamaCare and Obama everything else and save the Republic! No, the tears instead oozed out as he recounted his personal journey from a small town outside Cincinnati to now having the gavel.

Even then, on the very night of this historic wave election, Boehner was focused on himself, Washington, and never did get the memo of what 2010 was about. (Or 2014 for that matter). Ditto the entire establishment. Ditto Ryan. If you had to boil down the problem with the GOP-e to just one statement, it would be their self absorbed ignorance and arrogance borne of their geographic isolation. Everything else flows from this.

Boehner’s career is in fact testament to that. First elected in 1992 as a businessman from Southern Ohio, he was actually kind of a tea party thinker 17 years ahead of the movement. His solid conservative principles and disdain for Washington games were on display as he helped craft the Contract With America (CWA) – which was integral in the 1994 wave election that gave the GOP control of the House for the first time in 40 years. He then helped Newt Gingrich force much of the CWA down the throat of President Bill Clinton over the next few years. Ironically, that legislation largely worked, and then its success helped Clinton win in 1996 and even helped Obama in 2012, but that’s another story of establishment failure.

By 2004, however, Boehner had been in Washington long enough to have gone dark, and I don’t just mean tan. He helped craft an entirely different type of document: The No Child Left Behind Act. Co-authored by Boehner and Ted Kennedy, NCLB is reportedly the brainchild of Karl Rove. Obsessed with Ohio’s electoral votes in 2004’s upcoming election, Rove and the Bush White House wanted to pander to “education voters” in Ohio. In typical Rovian establishment style, the way to look at voters is as textureless single issue minions who can be manipulated with one piece of legislation and a direct mailer the week before the election reminding them of it.

It’s the Rove/Boehner way. Let’s be good little liberal-lites so we don’t offend soccer moms in Southern Ohio. Reagan conservatism and local control of education be damned. Focus groups over truth. Tactics over strategy. This is how they campaign, and it’s how they govern. And it’s at the root of their failures on both counts.

It gets even worse. By late 2012 and early 2013, Rove and Boehner were working simultaneously to derail the Tea Party and base conservatives. Boehner was playing the House of Cards insider game, first reported by Matthew Boyle in December of 2012, writing that “House Speaker Rep. John Boehner and GOP leadership have removed several conservative House members from their respective powerful committee positions.”

Meanwhile, Rove was working donor money angle, as Ben Shapiro reported in February of 2013, citing a New York Times report saying the “’biggest donors in the Republican Party’ have joined forces with Karl Rove and Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, to create the Conservative Victory Project.” (Irony alert!) “The Times reports that this new group will dedicate itself to “recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts.”

Why would you start a fight with your best customers? Because Boehner, Rove and the establishment do not understand that country outside of the eight gilded counties around D.C. at all. They see us as the problem.

So of course, the politicians, consultants, lobbyists and media mavens of the Jurassic establishment totally missed the point of perhaps the biggest internal tension – the Ted Cruz led and Obama Care inspired filibuster that was blamed (or perhaps credited) with the government shutdown. Along with George Will, Brit Hume, Charles Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)  and other beltway style group- thinkers, Boehner and Rove assured us this disastrous move would cost the GOP the Senate, and maybe the House, in 2014. The WSJ went so far as to label Cruz the “minority maker.”

We know what happened. Cruz’s efforts planted a flag on ObamaCare and rallied the troops much the way Doolittle’s Raid on Tokyo did right after Pearl Harbor. The tactic might not have borne fruit, but it ended up as part of a major strategic victory. With races in Colorado, North Carolina and elsewhere going down to the wire, finally the establishment machines rolled out the ObamaCare attacks for the final two weeks. It was a massive Republican wave election.

And no, Rove, Boehner and the establishment have still not admitted they were wrong. Even if the face of monumental evidence to the contrary, they still claim the Obama Care shutdown a failure. They can’t admit that Cruz was right then any more than they’ll admit that, say, Trump is right on immigration should he win the nomination and The Oval.  It’s the establishment way, and it leads to choosing Speakers that only Democrats can love.

Note: This is part four of a series, “Not just stupid, Rove-stupid.” Click here for parts one, two and three.

Edmund Wright is a contributor to Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV, Talk Radio Network, and author of several books including WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.


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