The rhubarb had a keystone cops air but what started it was deadly enough: A combination of a bully and power.
By nature he wasn’t particularly unkind and, in the past, he hadn’t enjoyed bullying but he had the power and he’d used it before to punish Congressmen who’d crossed him and he’d gotten away with it so, now, when he had a bone to pick with Mark Meadows, he figured Meadows would sulk quietly away like the others.
But this time he misjudged.
Meadows didn’t sulk away.
Instead he stood up and punched back and said the way he saw it John Boehner punishing a Congressman for voting his conscience was flat-out wrong.
It turned out to be the spark that lit the powder-keg.
The unexpected happened: Forty Congressmen, led by Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, closed ranks behind Meadows.
That stopped John Boehner dead in his tracks.
And the second blow fell.
After Boehner had punched Meadows – and taken away his chairmanship – he’d given his allies the green-light to do the same thing to another Congressman – Ken Buck of Colorado. But it turned out he’d misjudged again. Because Buck punched back too.
Bullying had backfired a second time and, by sundown, John Boehner was in full retreat.