Gingrich has been emailing House members for years with his searing advice and grandiloquent concepts, and everyone is mostly used to the fact that Boehner puts up with it just as if he was still Newt’s waterboy and bagman from 1995, handing out Big Tobacco checks to good soldiers on the floor of the House. In sum, Boehner is not afraid of Newt, but then again he acts as if he is beholden in the way of a co-dependent dealing with an abusive and cranky older relative.
The best description for this strange family arrangement follows along the satirical description of Gingrich as the “Fat Elvis” of the Republican Party. A wag in the cloakroom observes of Gingrich, “He’s turned Boehner and Cantor into Red and Sonny”—a reference to Red and Sonny West, the Elvis bodyguards during the years of drug abuse, who were charged with fetching Presley’s banana sandwiches and cleaning up after his rampages. “It’s [Gingrich’s] self-satire.”
Boehner and Cantor are both suffering the same sort of open mockery as Gingrich from the young House members, and they endure it with flustered dignity. The GOP House is not a dysfunctional family; it is better understood, according to a disgusted member, as “6-year-olds on a sugar high.”