I keep saying it: Republicans are the purest example of a political animal in existence. While running for or holding office, they toe the party line and chant the party mantra, all for the purpose of bringing themselves and their "Grand Old Party" into positions of power. Even the Freedom Caucus, which sometimes breaks with party leadership over one issue or another, still largely walks the line. Their beefs with the rest of the GOP tend not to be over the substance of Republican policies, but rather over a desire to make those policies even more draconian.
However, something interesting happens to some Republicans after walking away from political life. Some of them seem to develop this thing called a conscience, and that causes them to do something they rarely do while in office -- speak honestly.
The honesty bug has bitten former Speaker Of the House John Boehner on several occasions since Donald Trump moved into the White House and on Thursday, the former southern Ohio congressman gave a blunt assessment of what he thinks the Trump administration has been like so far. According to industry publication Rigzone, Boehner told those assembled at a Houston energy conference that to this point, Trump's presidency has been a "complete disaster."
Boehner gave Trump high marks for his handling of the fight against ISIS and other foreign policy matters, but he made it clear that he is no fan of on the job training for the most powerful leader in the world.
"Everything else he’s done has been a complete disaster," Boehner said. "He’s still learning how to be president."
That is an interesting sentiment, considering that Republicans have been promoting "outsiders" like Trump, who haven't been "corrupted" by Washington, as candidates for years. They even elected two of them before 2016: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. But those presidents came into the office with experience as elected officials. Trump, on the other hand, is the president the GOP base has been seeking ever since Reagan; a true "know nothing." And now Boehner, like a handful of his former colleagues, appears to be wondering "What hath Republicans wrought?"
In addition to his remark about Trump, Boehner signaled that he believes the Republican Caucus is too dysfunctional to get their agenda accomplished. He called the GOP's upcoming attempt at tax reform "just a bunch of happy talk." And the proposed "border adjustment tax?" "Deader than a doornail," Boehner said.
This isn't the first time Boehner has been critical of what has been happening in Washington in the age of Trump. Earlier this year he dismissed the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, saying "Republicans never agree on healthcare." But it is by far the harshest criticism he has leveled directly at Trump, who he says has been a friend for 15 years.
In the midst of his honesty, Boehner did show that he is still a Republican through and through. He called for investigators to get to the bottom of the Russian connections to the Trump campaign, but he couldn't resist throwing Hillary Clinton in the mix, even though the conduct of her campaign isn't the subject of official scrutiny.
"I don’t know why either of these campaigns (Hillary Clinton or Trump) were talking to Russians, but they need to get to the bottom of this … the crazy left wing Democratic colleagues of mine bringing up impeachment talks … talk of impeachment is the best way to rile up Trump supporters. Remember, impeachment is not a legal process; it’s a political process," Boehner said.
It is refreshing that John Boehner and a few other Republicans who are no longer in office are willing to speak honestly about Trump and their party. What would be even more refreshing is if more of them could manage to do something similar while still holding official positions. But as long as Republicans have to face GOP voters who are fed a steady diet of "alternative facts" by Fox News and even less reputable outlets, and stand for election in bright red gerrymandered districts where any deviation from Republican orthodoxy will earn them a primary challenge from the extreme right, don't expect to hear much in the way of truth or sanity. Instead, get used to more of the two things the GOP excels at: lies and silence.