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You need a break from Trump, Trump, Trump. So dive into this great (and long) read about what happened to Congress, Washington and the Republican Party over the last 25 years – told through the (famously weepy) eyes of former Speaker John Boehner: “John Boehner Unchained: The former House speaker feels liberated—but he’s also seething about what happened to his party” by Tim Alberta in Politico.

From the time Boehner was elected to Congress in 1990, he went from being a right-wing, Democrat-baiting, bomb-throwing devil incarnate to a likeable, chain-smoking, wine-drinking guy you could do a deal with if it weren’t for the hateful, flame-throwing, barn-burning Tea Partiers who took over the GOP. And then came Trump.

You know things are bad when Democrats miss Boehner and Bush.

Alberta writes:

“To outsiders, Boehner might just be the happiest man alive, a liberated retiree who spends his days swirling merlot and cackling at Speaker Paul Ryan’s misfortune. The truth is more complicated. At 67, Boehner is liberated—to say what he spent many years trying not to say; to smoke his two packs a day without undue stress; to chuckle at the latest crisis in Washington and whisper to himself those three magic words: “Not my problem.” And yet he is struggling—with the lingering perception that he was run out of Congress; with his alarm about the country’s future; and with the question of what he’s supposed to do next.”

The story is based on 18 hours that Alberta spent with Boehner, talking, playing golf, towel-snapping with his buddies and, yes, drinking red wine. North Carolinians mentioned include Boehner’s long-time buddy Richard Burr, Patrick McHenry (Boehner says, “McHenry’s going to be the speaker one day”) and Mark Meadows (Boehner says, “He’s an idiot”).

Boehner holds nothing back, pegging a few of his ex-caucus members as “terrorists” and “assholes” as he lights up another Camel. But the story isn’t all name-calling and score-settling:

“…(T)he story of Boehner’s 25 years in Washington is also the story of the Republican Party, the Congress and American politics in the post-Ronald Reagan era: an account of corruption and crusading, enormous promises and underwhelming results, growing ideological polarization and declining faith in government. The same centrifugal forces that made Boehner’s job impossible have bedeviled his successor, Ryan, and kept the GOP majorities in Congress from passing any landmark legislation in 2017. Now, as the revolutionary fervor that swept Boehner into the speakership degenerates into a fratricidal conflict centered around Trump, the former speaker’s frontline view of the Republican civil war is essential to understanding what went wrong.”

Alberta tells the story well. Enjoy.

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