by Gary Spina
John Boehner has again proven to be a shameless hypocrite as he moved to punish his Republican colleagues who voted against his election to a third term as Speaker of the House.
Immediately after winning reelection as Speaker, Boehner addressed the House chamber in sagacious reflection that bespoke an understanding that Congress was designed by our framers to be arena of ideas, affirming that the rightful business of the legislature is by necessity adversarial. From such free, open, honest differences the best of ideas are supposed to prevail.
But that’s giving Boehner too much credit. What he actually said fell short of that. What he actually did afterwards made a mockery of it.
“Skepticism of the government is healthy, and in our time, quite understandable,” Boehner said to his colleagues. As Speaker, all I ask – and, frankly, expect – is that we disagree without being disagreeable. In return, I pledge to help each of you carry out your duties. My door, of course, is always open. Just don’t get carried away.”
He also said: “The battle of ideas never ends, and frankly, never should.”
Those words seemed to signal Boehner’s understanding of the essence of a deliberative body. But, of course, he did not and he does not possess such understanding nor such tolerance. Within hours of that speech, Speaker Boehner stripped Florida representatives Daniel Webster and Rich Nugent of their seats on the influential Rules Committee. Webster had challenged Boehner by running against him for Speaker, and Nugent had supported Webster.
Representatives Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) had also chosen to run against Boehner, and supporters close to Boehner have indicted more retaliation can be expected. Writing for Politico, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan reported, “The House Republican leadership is carefully reviewing the list of members who voted against the speaker and those who opposed a procedural motion in December on the so-called “cromnibus,” the $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government open through to September. Top Republican sources suggested that the process could take months to unfold.”
According to Sherman and Bresnahan, on the Monday night before the vote, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) had hosted a dinner where the insurrection against Boehner was perhaps loosely coordinated. Stutzman in particular, along with Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Scott Rigell (R-Vir.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Steve King (R-Iowa), and nearly twenty other Republicans face retribution by Boehner and the Republican establishment.
Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) had opposed Boehner in the past, and as a result in 2012 the Kansas Republican lost his seat on the Agriculture Committee. After the votes were tallied on Tuesday, Huelskamp expressed his dismay that only three of the newly elected freshmen Congressmen had voted against the Speaker.
Although Boehner had worked hard to suppress any opposition to his Speakership, he won reelection by only 11 votes, surviving the largest rebellion against a sitting Speaker since the Civil War.
The coup attempt against Boehner was cheered by many across America who are frustrated with the Speaker, wishing he would stand as staunchly against Obama as he does against conservative Republicans.
Editor’s Note: John Bohner has responded by back pedaling a bit, saying that Webster and Nugent weren’t put back immediately and “we’re going to have a family conversation.”