John Boehner’s announced departure from Congress comes on the heels of a recent Gallup poll that found he was suffering some record low levels of voter approval – a sad commentary that nonetheless flies in the face of some fawning reaction to his resignation.
As Gallup found, Boehner was viewed in a negative light in August by 54 percent of Americans.
In fact, his best numbers as speaker came way back in 2011, when he was elected to the post after a huge Republican victory in midterm elections. Then, fully 42 percent claimed favorable impressions of Boehner – but since, the numbers have been downhill, the Washington Post found.
Among Republicans especially, Boehner has faced a tough climb, with polls putting him at only a 37 percent favorability factor with members of his own party.
Yet, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., only had words of praise for Boehner about his announced resignation from Congress and the speaker slot.
Ryan said: “John Boehner has been a great leader of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives. This was an act of pure selflessness. John’s decades of service have helped move our country forward and I deeply value his friendship.”
But for that, he was roundly criticized on at least one blog.
A poster on IOTWReport.com called Ryan’s statement “idiotic,” particularly the reference to Boehner’s motives.
Get your copy of “Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It,” and find out what Richard Viguerie believes is a winning formula for conservatives, and the U.S., at a special price right now!
“‘This was an act of pure selflessness.’ IS HE KIDDING????? Boehner is a R.E.P.R.E.S.E.N.T.A.T.I.V.E.,” the blogger wrote. “The selfless part is supposed to be GOING to DC. If the base doesn’t think you’re doing a great job representing, it is not SELFLESS to leave. It could only be SELFISH to stay. Paul Ryan is a jerk.”
Others, however, spoke kindly of Boehner.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said Boehner “is a decent, principles conservative man who tried to do the right thing under the almost impossible circumstances. He will be missed by Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Penn., said: “The next speaker is going to have a very tough job. The fundamental dynamics don’t change,” the New York Times reported.
Dent also blamed Boehner’s resignation on far-right influences.
“It’s clear to me that the rejectionist members of our conference clearly had an influence on his defcision. That’s why I’m not happy about what happened today. We still have important issues to deal with and this will not be easier for the next guy.”
But not all are sad to see the speaker go.
“I think it’s awesome, said Joe Glover, a Republican living in the Dallas area who told the New York Times he was tired of seeing concessions on Capitol Hill to the Democratic base. “Number one, he needed to go and number two, it should give us an opportunity to have a fresh voice and fresh leadership because we haven’t seen the leadership from that office we need to see.”
And more reaction, from a variety of sources, sent mixed messages.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Boehner’s departure “seismic for the House” and further evidence of the hard-right’s “hijacking” of the Republican Party.
“That resignation of the speaker,” she said, CNN reported, “is a stark indication of the disarray of the House Republicans.”
Pelosi also said she was going to continue to press Boehner to support her full funding push for Planned Parenthood.
Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, meanwhile, tweeted this about Boehner: “By ousting a good man like Speaker Boehner – someone who understood the art of compromise – the party of Eisenhower and Reagan is no more.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, who’s a leading candidate to succeed Boehner, offered kind words for the speaker as well.
“John has been a leader, mentor, and most of all friend throughout and I learned not only from his experience but also from his unshakeable faith and principles,” McCarthy said, CNN reported. “It takes profound humility to step down from a position of power and John’s depth of character is unmatched.”
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said he “got choked up” when Boehner made the announcement to the Republican Conference, and the entire room went “somber.” And Rep. Greg Walden, who serves in Boehner’s House leadership, called it a “terrible loss for the party,” CNN reported.
Sen. Ted Cruz, however, who’s hovering around the middle of the Republican pack on the presidentical nomination trail, said at the Values Voter Summit, applauded the announcement. He told his largely conservative audience: “Yesterday John Boehner was speaker of the House. Y’all come to town and somehow that changes. My only request is can you come more often?
Sen. Rick Santorum, another Republican presidential hopeful, said at the same summit it was time Boehner stepped away from his speaker role.
Boehner’s “changed a bit” during his time on Capitol Hill, Santorum said, adding it’s “time for a new chapter.”
And Rep. Tim Huelskamp tweeted this blunt message: “Today the establishment lost. #Boehner.”
Jeb Bush, the leading pick for president among establishment Republicans, also put out a tweet: “John Boehner dedicated his life to public service. Bringing the Holy Father to Congress was a fitting cap to a great career.”
And from Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, came this: “He has been a tireless advocate for conservative principles who has raised millions to elect and re-elect Republicans to the House of Representatives. Our party owes him a great debt,” CNN reported.