John Boehner’s speakership in the US House of Representatives is not long for this world – or so saith the Tea Party, which claims to have assembled a Gang of Nine to unseat him and fill his chair with Representatives Louie Gohmert or Ted Yoho. It is an impressive list of names. I mean, just look at it: they have a gang. Clearly Boehner is toast.
You probably know better. A Gang of Nine going after John Boehner is as terrifying as when the Legion of Doom tried to take over the world in a Superfriends episode. Just replace Gohmert and Yoho with Brainiac and Gorilla Grodd and, as much as it pains me, replace Boehner with Superman. Braniac and Grodd trying to take over the world signifies nothing; doing so every episode is their job, as is losing. Everyone has a role and, in the meantime, the checks keep coming. This is how the system is designed to work.
Boehner’s tenacity owes far more to the institutional structures of the modern Republican party than it does to the clownishness of his would-be deposers, even though it is incredibly tempting to chalk it up to that alone. No one would fault you for looking at Ted Yoho and seeing an empty suit. His biggest claim to fame – besides pig videos and being a “big animal” veterinarian, which was something of a cross-promotional slam dunk – is beating a vampire-LARPing GOP primary candidate in central Florida. He could swing a dead cat while trapped in a closet with a dozen fellow GOP reps and still not hit anyone he thinkfluenced. His family’s iPhones all still try to autocorrect his name to Yahoo, Yoohoo, Yoda or #Yolo.
Positing that Boehner can’t lose because his opponent is a loser is no less tempting with Louie Gohmert, the kind of guy who could screw up a two-car funeral if you loaned him two self-driving Google vans and told him the starting point was his own house. Sure, Louie served in the US army judge advocate general corps, but I choose to believe him when he says that the government always makes mistakes. Later, he was an elected Texas judge, which could merely indicate that he was the guy who knew where the longest rope and the tallest tree could be found and brought a map to every campaign event. The debate over Gohmert isn’t whether he’s stupid but whether he’s stupid like a fox; it’s whether he is a moron who simply lived long enough until morons became an electoral majority, or if he just plays one on TV.
You can make a great case for the latter. Gohmert’s idea of punking the Democratic establishment is introducing a bill with the same name as one of Obama’s . It’s hard to tell if his point was to see if THE DUMBOCRATS accidentally passed his bill or if it was merely the passive trollery of, “Look, here’s a better bill”; either way, it’s a knee slapper for the sort of people who get email updates from Townhall.com .
In fact, every bit of Gohmert’s career essentially reads like an email forward from the one guy in your fantasy football league who wanted the year-end prize to be investment-grade gold coins: global warming will mean more plants ; he once saw a gay soldier accidentally go to sodomize a straight one ; moo goo dog pan ; oil pipelines are a turn-on for caribou ; terror anchor babies ; the president has visited all 57 Islamic states . As Speaker, his policy plan would be to essentially defund everything and hold every part of the government besides the border patrol hostage in exchange for the whatever the white Christian conservative version of “restoration of the Caliphate” is.
In his current position, however, Gohmert has done almost nothing of value to his constituents. He’s been in Congress since 2005 and has been instrumental in authoring or passing zero critical legislation, giving the Republican base nothing to be mad at him for doing while reliably pointing at things Democrats and “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only, if you failed to sign up for a single conservative email list) have done or failed to do that should make everyone mad as hell ... or at least mad enough to write checks.
You can write a check now at World Net Daily, America’s Birther Superstore, where the only thing that could distract from the fact that Clinton planned the Y2K bug as part of a one-world-government takeover after murdering Vince Foster was the election of a black president. For $29.95, your hard-copy “DUMP BOEHNER” letter can be hand-delivered to every member of the House. Meanwhile, at FreedomWorks – a totally grassroots group founded and originally led by humble folk like David Koch, Jack Kemp, former House majority leader Dick Armey and Steve Forbes – you can sign a totally weightless petition in exchange for your email address .
That email address is important, because it will go into a hopper filled with millions of other email addresses that will be targeted with hysterical, factually-challenged “facts” about the socialist takeover coming in 2016, calling for more money to fund more doomed political gestures like voting against Boehner for House speaker, while also attempting to sell you products from patriotic services the left doesn’t want you to know about. (Purestrain gold! 50 Secrets To Hack The Economy!) It’s a process that’s been fundamental to movement conservatism for 50 years – collecting conservatives’ contact information to ask for their money, then renting the data to other conservatives to fundraise and sell sad collectibles to mom and doomed mining rights to dad.
If you wanted to be very cynical, you could see the same “insurgency” scheme at work with the other big name that’s called for Boehner’s ouster – David Brat, the freshmen House member and former economics professor who unseated Eric Cantor. While at Randolph-Macon College, Brat was the director of the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program, designed to bring more Ayn Rand to the economics curriculum . Brat’s job to make more Randroids was created by Branch Banking and Trust Company CEO John Allison, who left his job to become President and CEO of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank co-founded by the other Koch brother, Charles. Brat also received invaluable free ad time thanks to fawning campaign profiles from the likes of Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, who receive funding fromthe Koch brothers and other Tea Party groups .
Brat broke from Boehner over the entirely pedestrian Cromnibus Bill for all the usual fundraising-friendly reasons – Defund Obamacare! No amnesty! – and it’s hard to read his ultimately fruitless decision as anything other than fuel for the same system that made him. David Brat claims that establishment conservatives like Boehner have no real answers; angry conservatives send money to more angry conservative groups determined to do something with extra exclamation points. Then they endow more chairs to make more David Brats to make more angry conservatives. It’s like Soylent Green, but with outrage.
Boehner will nonetheless hang on, and seemingly paradoxically become stronger; movement conservatives will get to feel like they have a voice; movement conservatism’s activist money farms will garner another fundraising outrage; Louie and Charles and David (either one) will get to count bills. And, atop it all, Boehner gets to “beat back” the crazies and present himself as the “sane one” in a party listing further right than the Hoegh Osaka . Atop a pyramid scheme of whackdoodles, a pragmatic statesman will be returned to office, whereupon it will resume being Obama’s fault for not compromising with him.
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