The RINOpocalypse is upon us. Actually, John Boehner’s appearance on one of the last remaining Tonight Show with Jay Leno entries was a relaxed and light-hearted affair, but anyone who is either (a) suspicious of Boehner’s commitment to conservatism and (b) tired of Bushes and Clintons dominating the 2016 contest talk will have good reason to gripe about Boehner’s take:
The 12-term congressman said he has no aspirations to move to another Washington residence: The White House.
“Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes, and I’m not giving that up to be president of the United States,” Boehner joked, a reference to President Barack Obama, who has spoken publicly about his work to quit smoking as he aimed for the nation’s highest office.
As for other Republican candidates for president in 2016, Boehner said he wasn’t picking one to support, but did name one would-be candidate whom he liked.
“Well, listen, I’m not endorsing anybody, but [former Florida Gov.] Jeb Bush is my friend, and I frankly think he’d make a great president,” Boehner said.
Actually, it wasn’t all lighthearted. The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove thinks that Boehner may have been a little too relaxed, so to speak, until it came to Vladimir Putin:
It’s not implausible that red wine and cigarettes figured in the 64-year-old Boehner’s Tonight Show preparation; he was looking far too relaxed for his somber dark suit and crisp white shirt, though maybe that hot pink-patterned tie was a tipoff. Swinging eagerly at Leno’s curve balls and apparently hoping for the best, he was at once appealingly human and thrillingly dangerous.
“No!” he snapped when Jay asked if he’d ever met Putin, the czar of the Sochi Olympics and the leader of 144 million Russians. “And I don’t want to meet him. I think he’s a thug, and I think he’s treated his neighbors in a disrespectful way and, frankly, I think the president ought to stand up to him.”
That got applause from the Cold Warriors in the audience at NBC’s Burbank studios.
Excuse me, but I don’t need a glass of red wine to offer those rather obvious conclusions in public, and I doubt John Boehner does, either.
As for his quasi-endorsement of Jeb Bush, it’s an odd statement, considering that even his mother doesn’t want him to run — for the same reason I don’t. This country of 330 million should be able to find a couple of acceptable candidates with last names other than Bush or Clinton, or Kennedy too, for that matter. Jeb made a fine governor, but we have plenty of fine governors who can represent the GOP, with names like Walker, Jindal, Perry, Pence, and so on. We don’t do dynasties or hereditary privilege in America. Two Bushes and one Clinton in a single generation is enough.
The quote from Boehner that will get the most notice, though, will be how he sees his leadership options in the House. As someone who has had to herd cats for a living (ie, managing a few dozen people), I get his point — but the Nazi reference was probably ill-considered anyway: “They don’t realize I’ve got a lot of other roles that I play. You know, some members, I have to be the big brother figure. Some I have to be the father figure. Others I have to be the dean of students or the principal. Some of them I have to be the Gestapo.”
Given how he’s seen by the Tea Party and grassroots conservatives, he’d be better off just not going there.
Update: Karl’s point is well taken:
@EdMorrissey I would hope he plugged Jeb to avoid commenting on those actually running. But I fear he wasn't.
— Just Karl (@justkarl) January 24, 2014