The age of Boehner in the United States Congress is at an end. He announced his resignation effective the end of October 2015.
The first flurry of commentary will likely center on the motives, or proximate causes, of the startling move. Some say he dreamed his entire career of bringing the Pope to Congress, and having achieved that end, his mission is completed. Others say he could not marshal two hundred and eighteen Republican votes to save his speakership against an expected vote of no confidence. On the one hand are those who argue he was undone by those pesky conservatives; on the other are those who claim Boehner himself was frustrated by Obama’s high-handed usurpation of powers delegated by the Constitution to the legislative branch. But today, for one moment of sanity, of clarity, of pause, of deliberation, of reflection, let us lay aside what Maimonides calls “the follies of temporal existence” and try to “heed the clarion call to awaken from our slumber.”
The story of John Boehner is not the story of a bad, or even a fatally flawed, individual. Rather it is the story of a decent man in time of indecency, a normal man in time of abnormality, a stable man in time of instability.
One hundred years ago the John Boehner brand of politics would have been nearly ideal. He views government as an agent of compassion and repairing the breaches in civil society, but not at the expense of balance in budgeting and stewarding the good faith and credit of the United States of America. If the Democrats were well-meaning people with slightly divergent views, Boehner would be a perfect counterweight to keep them from going overboard writing checks on the Treasury.
The problem is we have descended into madness. The debt has doubled from nine to eighteen trillion dollars in the course of a single presidency, but even the preceding nine had us at a tipping point. This is a simple fact none of us wishes to acknowledge: THIS COUNTRY IS FINANCIALLY BANKRUPT. Not in ten years, not in twenty years, but right now. If the world gets together and calls its debt, we are Greece. And grease, to be mopped up with a bit of detergent. We are only standing because no one yet has the guts to put us down and to reimagine a world without American power at its helm.
We have killed tens of millions of infants, and counting, in the name of some vague notion of freedom for women. Freedom from motherhood. Freedom from life. Freedom from love. Freedom from compassion. Freedom from family. Freedom from community. Freedom from responsibility. The polls are in favor of saving those children when the mother’s life is not endangered, yet that view never manages to prevail in our legislative process.
Our Supreme Court has just dismantled the oldest, proudest institution of human civilization, marriage between man and woman. This is a bond so holy that in many instances it can bring souls down from their storehouse in Heaven to walk among the living and bring life, love, art, music, invention, discovery, and the potential of a better future for humanity. The majority of Americans oppose this bloodbath as well. This creates a situation where more than half of the country, often as many as seventy percent, wake up each morning powerless to stop the moral degradation that has become the norm.
Abroad the savages are cutting a bloody swath through civilization. Al Qaeda and ISIS compete with each other to develop progressively grislier methods for murder. Iran is gearing up for mass murder on an unprecedented scale, and the same coalition of the spineless and the heartless is yielding. How does it feel as an American to hear our President speak without irony of the “Supreme Leader” of our sworn enemy?
This is not a time for accommodation, for comity, for diplomacy, for gentility, for the fine qualities of character which describe a legislative leader in times of national health. It would be nice if we could afford a John Boehner at the helm of a steady ship, soughing gently through the calm waters without making waves, its bow tall and proud. But the ship is sinking, and sinking too fast to be righted quickly by dropping a bit of ballast.
It is sad to see a good man go, but now we need a hero. I pray that somewhere in the House of Representatives there is a man or woman who hears that call. We wish John Boehner well and we thank him for his service.