John Boehner is the ultimate Beltway hack, a man whose unmatched and self-serving skill at political survival has made him, after two decades in Washington, the hairy blue mold on the American congressional sandwich. The biographer who somewhere down the line tackles the question of Boehner's legacy will do well to simply throw out any references to party affiliation, because the thing that has made Boehner who he is — the thing that has finally lifted him to the apex of legislative power in America — has almost nothing to do with his being a Republican.The rest of the article only gets worse. I think what could happen is that Boehner could, when representing his corporate interests so wonderfully and opposing the idealistic demands of the Tea Partiers to truly cut the size of government, come to look like a moderate, sensible Republican instead of the sleazy, bought-off politician he really is.
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.
As for what that job is, here's the thing: In this age of greed-enabling bailouts and rampaging Tea Parties and coast-to-coast voter rage toward the entire political process, Congress in particular now ranks as one of the single most unpopular political entities on earth. Recent polls show that only 13 percent of Americans approve of the job performance of their national legislature — which makes our elected representatives even less popular here at home than, say, Al Qaeda is in Pakistan. (Bin Laden and Co. scored an 18 percent approval rating not long ago.)
The reasons aren't hard to figure. Voters are fatigued not only by the seemingly endless kinky-sex and corruption scandals emanating from Capitol Hill, but also by the increasingly infuriating fact that no matter which party is in power, the leadership inevitably borrows like dice addicts on the Vegas strip and uses the money to pay for huge Frankensteinian initiatives that bloat the size and power of the federal government, often without semblance of sense or plan. The underlying dynamic is bought-off congressmen ignoring real social problems and using the legislative process to construct massive perpetual handouts for their campaign-contributor sponsors. Both parties have now made the servicing of the giant handout machine their primary raison d'être — and it's this perception, that Washington is occupied by an unbreakable bipartisan conspiracy of favor-churning hacks, that has inspired anti-Washington revolts like the Tea Party.
In the Nineties, Boehner started weekly meetings with a group of lobbyists, originally known as "The Thursday Group," that helped him develop close ties to companies like Citigroup, MillerCoors, UPS, Goldman Sachs, Google and R.J. Reynolds. And what does Boehner do with these lobbyists? Well, one thing we know he does is play golf — shitloads and shitloads of golf, which he apparently likes a lot more than, well, working. "Lazy" is how one former congressional aide describes Boehner's work ethic. "Not the hardest worker," said Joe Scarborough, former congressman and current MSNBC host. Congressional sources say that Boehner likes to knock off early, and that seems to square with his record, which reveals a real passion — for the links. He once went on 180 junkets in six years, most of them golf trips, and reportedly copped to playing 100 rounds a year at a time when he was collecting a six-figure salary, paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, to serve in Congress. His political action committee spent almost $83,000 on golf events in 2009, and over the past 18 months he has run up a $67,000 tab at the Ritz-Carlton golf resort in Naples, Florida. He flew on a corporate jet 45 times between 2000 and 2007, and took at least 41 other corporate-sponsored trips in the past decade.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Boehner the Bought-Off Beltway Hack
Muckraker Matt Taibbi writes about Speaker John Boehner in this utterly scathing article, that nevertheless has the distinct ring of truth. It looks like we have one of the most corrupt and self-serving men who's ever served as Speaker. God has mercy on America with men like this in charge.