The 24 most amazing John Boehner quotes in one amazing John Boehner story
Posted October 30, 2017 1:57 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) — John Boehner has stopped being polite -- and started getting real.
In a series of interviews with Politico's Tim Alberta for a massive -- and massively entertaining -- profile of the former speaker of the House, Boehner offered his thoughts on everything from Jason Chaffetz and Jim Jordan (Does. Not. Like.) to what members of Congress should eat, to Ted Cruz (see Chaffetz and Jordan) to, yes, his smoking habits.
The whole story is amazing, but what stands out is Boehner's candor. Time and time again, he tells Alberta what he really thinks about his former colleagues -- a sort of frankness that has almost entirely disappeared in politics. (Former Vice President Joe Biden, who speaks highly of Boehner to Alberta, is, like Boehner, one of the remaining practitioners of this kind of politics.)
Below are the 24 most remarkable quotes from Boehner in the story. In some of them I've added a thought or two. Others are, um, self explanatory.
1. "I've never had a hot dog for dinner in my life."
So many questions. Does this mean Boehner has never eaten a hot dog before? Or that he just hasn't eaten one for dinner? Has he eaten a hot dog for breakfast? Lunch? Brunch?
2. "If I was going to die from smoking cigarettes, I'd already be dead."
Boehner smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. He is 67 years old.
3. "F*** Jordan. F*** Chaffetz. They're both assholes."
That's Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah that Boehner is referring to. Jordan -- one of the founders of the House Freedom Caucus, an influential bloc of conservatives -- is someone with whom Boehner repeatedly clashed in his time as speaker. Chaffetz, who left Congress earlier this year for a job at Fox News, is talented but selfish, according to Boehner -- a "total phony."
4. "A terrorist. A legislative terrorist."
Boehner is referring to Jordan here -- but his critique can easily be broadened to represent the sort of compromise-equals-capitulation crowd that helped push him out of office.
5. "You're gonna be a fat-ass."
That's Boehner's advice to Rep. Patrick McHenry when the then-speaker saw the North Carolina Republican eating an ice cream sandwich.
6. "DeLay and I were never close. Matter of fact, half the stab wounds in my back are from him."
Tom DeLay, who spent years as House majority whip, is not likely to be on the Boehner Christmas card list.
7. "They're never going to see an ounce of disappointment on my face. We're just going to earn our way back."
Boehner on his attitude after being ousted as House GOP conference chairman in the wake of the 1998 election. Also, a window into how Boehner handled his speakership amid historically large challenges presented by members of his own party.
8. "F*** you."
Boehner's response to Alaska GOP Rep. Don Young after Boehner says Young held a 10-inch knife to his throat in a dispute over earmarking.
9. "He had more gay staff than anybody I knew -- at a time when it was a bit unusual."
That's Boehner's take on the revelations that Dennis Hastert, the man under whom he served as speaker, had molested a number of young men during his days as a high school wrestling coach. That is a very odd quote.
10. "Heritage was a respected conservative think tank, and he turned it into some half-assed political operation."
Boehner's take on former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. (DeMint was removed as the head of the Heritage Foundation earlier this year.)
11. "It's hard to negotiate with no dick."
12. "But that little son of a bitch got under my skin."
Boehner on Harry Reid. Also, Reid and Boehner became "really good friends" after Boehner confronted him before a White House meeting.
13. "The President, the vice president, Reid, Pelosi, they're all sitting there with the biggest s***-eating grins on their faces that you've ever seen, because they can't believe we're this f***ing stupid.'"
Boehner was not a big fan of the 2013 government shutdown. He eventually went along with it. But he was right that the government shutdown would be blamed on Republicans.
14. "He's the most miserable son of a bitch I've ever had to work with."
Boehner on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whom he blames for forcing the government shutdown to benefit his own political future.
15. "That was the worst campaign ever run."
This is a reference to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's unsuccessful primary campaign against Dave Brat in 2014. Cantor's loss was an absolutely stunning defeat that signaled the continued power of the tea party. According to Boehner, the Cantor loss was the end of the end for his chances of holding onto the speakership.
16. "He's an idiot. I can't tell you what makes him tick."
Boehner is still angry at North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a Freedom Caucus member, for trying to force a vote on vacating the speakership. The vote never came to pass, but it was the catalyst of forcing Boehner to decide to resign.
17. "I looked at that statue of the Virgin Mary next to St. Peter's Church, and I decided, all right, today's the day."
Boehner's description of the day he decided to resign is pure Boehner.
18. "So 43 says, 'Hey, are you talking to Ryan? Are you giving him advice?' I said, 'Yeah, if he calls, I give him advice.' And he texts me back: 'He needs to call you more.'"
Boehner is recounting -- to a reporter -- a text exchange with former President George W. Bush about Speaker Paul Ryan. And it's a text that doesn't paint Ryan in a good light. Amazing.
19. "You're a p****."
Boehner is telling a story about how the 43rd President wouldn't join Burning Tree -- a male-only golf club in Maryland -- because of the optics of a president doing so. This is how Boehner viewed Bush's decision.
20. "Donald Trump's not a Republican. He's not a Democrat. He's a populist. He doesn't have an ideological bone in his body."
This is 100% right.
21. "They'll be talking about the end of the two-party system."
Boehner's prediction of how his speakership will be remembered is ominous.
22. "What a s***show."
Boehner on the current state of politics.
23. "I called him and said, 'Listen, you're nuts.'"
This conversation between Boehner and conservative mouthpiece Sean Hannity must have been a doozy.
24. "But you can't force the big guy to give you an answer."
Boehner responding to a question about whether he has found a purpose in life. The answer is "no." But he is still waiting for a sign.