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‘You could be a total moron and get elected’: Boehner’s new book takes swipes at Republicans

Former House Speaker John Boehner.
Former House Speaker John Boehner.Michael A. McCoy/Associated Press/File 2019

Former House Speaker John Boehner isn’t holding back in his forthcoming book, “On the House,” in which he promises to share “colorful tales from the halls of power, the smoke-filled rooms around the halls of power, and his fabled tour bus.”

In an essay adapted from the book and published by Politico on Friday, Boehner unloads on right-wing media personalities and several fellow Republicans. The former Ohio Congressman describes the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 2010 and the beginnings of the populist far-right.

“Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing. A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington,” Boehner writes of the 2010 class of lawmakers.


Boehner’s book is set to be released later this month. He also recorded an audio version of the book, in which he goes colorfully off-script, according to Axios.

Here are some highlights from the essay, titled, “Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates and the Birth of GOP Paranoia.

Boehner had a poor opinion of the Tea Party Republicans who swept into power in 2010

Boehner had a dismal view of the intelligence of many of the House Republicans who were elected midway through Barack Obama’s first term.

In the opening paragraph, he says just about anyone could have been elected in the 2010 midterms as long as they were a Republican.

“You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category,” he writes.

On their arrival to Congress, things did not improve, in Boehner’s view.

“I had to explain how to actually get things done. A lot of that went straight through the ears of most of them, especially the ones who didn’t have brains that got in the way,” he says.


He saw the rise of the right-wing media ecosystem firsthand

In his essay, Boehner describes the rise of the media ecosystem that allowed the far-right to flourish, even as it diminished his own power and influence, describing how he saw a change in former Fox News chief Roger Ailes over the years into someone who believed in the far right conspiracy theories he pushed on air.

“I once met him in New York during the Obama years to plead with him to put a leash on some of the crazies he was putting on the air. It was making my job trying to accomplish anything conservative that much harder,” Boehner writes.

But beyond the fringe ideas, Boehner writes that Fox’s promotion of little-known far-right politicians allowed them to exert once-unthinkable influence in the halls of Congress. Boehner describes a meeting with former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who asked for a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee early in her House tenure. When Boehner said no, Bachmann said she’d “go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox.”

“I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now,” Boehner writes. “She was right, of course.”

Boehner has some choice words for Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and Senator Ted Cruz

In the essay, Boehner expresses disdain for a number of influential conservatives, telling readers that radio host Mark Levin was the first to “spout off this crazy nonsense” about Obama’s birth certificate, and calling Fox’s Sean Hannity “one of the worst” in creating incentives for Republicans to push conspiracy theories.


But Boehner saves perhaps his harshest criticism for someone who wasn’t even a member of the House of Representatives: Senator Ted Cruz.

He writes that even from outside the House, Cruz had marshalled the far-right members of the Republican caucus and became what Boehner describes as the “head lunatic.”

“There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless [expletive] who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz,” Boehner writes.

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.