Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner has torn into ‘lunatics’ and ‘morons’ in his own party and reveals he was criticized for confirming that Barack Obama was born in America.
In is new book ‘On the House: A Washington Memoir,’ the chain-smoking, red wine-sipping Boehner says the GOP thought the ex-president was a ‘secret Kenyan Muslim traitor.’
He also calls Ted Cruz a ‘reckless a**hole’, Tea Party member Michele Bachmann a ‘lunatic’ and describes his constant battles with Fox News over their conservative message and the ‘fringe’ politicians the network was turning into ‘stars.’
Boehner reveals he clashed with Rupert Murdoch at meetings in the 1990s, when Fox News was in its early days, and believes Roger Ailes ‘got swept into the conspiracies and the paranoia’ of birtherism conspiracy theories.
Boehner was voted speaker in 2010 after midterm elections dominated by the Tea Party, which he believes started turning the party in a different direction.
A year later he was subjected to a wave of criticism when NBC’s Brian Williams asked him about the Obama birtherism claims, and he said: ”The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me.’
‘You would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist,’ he said about the reaction to a ‘simple statement of fact.’
Former House Speaker John Boehner (left) wrote in his new book that Republicans and right-wing media figures truly believed President Barack Obama (right) was a ‘secret Kenyan Muslim traitor’
ATTACKED FOR CONFIRMING OBAMA WAS BORN IN HAWAII
Boehner recalled the pushback he received from members of his party when he went on Meet The Press and vouched that Obama was born in the United States.
‘The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me,’ Boehner said in January 2011.
He also wrote about the moment he realized the ‘lunatics’ had grown more powerful than Republican leadership.
‘I got all kinds of sh** for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks.
‘I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were,’ Boehner wrote.
‘All of this crap swirling around was going to make it tough for me to cut any deals with Obama as the new House Speaker. Of course, it has to be said that Obama didn’t help himself much either.’
‘But on the other hand – how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?’ Boehner observed.
‘YOU COULD BE A TOTAL MORON AND GET ELECTED WITH AN ‘R’ NEXT TO YOUR NAME IN 2010′
Boehner ascended to the speakership in 2011 after the Tea Party movement helped the GOP capture the House majority two years into Obama’s tenure.
He recalled how Obama called the experience a ‘shellacking.’
‘And oh boy, was it ever,’ Boehner wrote in an excerpt for Politico Magazine that was released Friday. ‘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.’
Boehner complained about the tone of the new Tea Party-tied members.
‘Since I was presiding over a large group of people who’d never sat in Congress, I felt I owed them a little tutorial on governing.
‘I had to explain how to actually get things done,’ he explained. ‘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. Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing.’
‘A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected,’ he continued.
CLASHES WITH RUPERT MURDOCH, ROGER AILES AND SEAN HANNITY
On top of that, the conservative media establishment was leaning into conspiracy theories and elevating those who spouted them, Boehner observed.
The former speaker recalled a meeting he had in the early 90s with the late Roger Ailes, who became CEO of Fox News Channel and Rupert Murdoch.
They were talking to Boehner about this new TV network they were starting, Fox News.
Former Speaker John Boehner’s book, ‘On the House: A Washington Memoir,’ comes out on April 13
‘I had no idea I was listening to the outline of something that would make my life a living hell down the line,’ Boehner observed.
Cut to 2011, and Boehner watched how ‘birther-ism’ – the conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in the United States – went from the internet to, by his calculation, radio host Mark Levin. ‘It got him ratings, so eventually he dragged Hannity and Rush to Looneyville along with him,’ Boehner said.
‘My longtime friend Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, was not immune to this,’ Boehner added. ‘He got swept into the conspiracies and the paranoia and became an almost unrecognizable figure.’
Boehner wrote about confrontations he had with Ailes and also with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity.
Ailes, the Ohio Republican recalled, told him how Obama, the Clintons and George Soros were ‘trying to destroy him’ and so he had installed a ‘safe room’ in his house.
‘It was like he’d been reading whacked-out spy novels all weekend,’ Boehner recalled. ‘I thought I could get him to control the crazies, and instead I found myself talking to the president of the club. One of us was crazy. Maybe it was me.’
Sean Hannity hit back at Boehner’s comments and said ‘he will down as one of the worst Republican speakers in history. He added: ‘He’s weak, timid and what’s up with all the crying John?’
‘At some point I called him a nut,’ Boehner added.
After Hannity started going after Boehner on his show night after night, the House speaker called him up to ask, ‘What the hell?’
Hannity, according to Boehner, pushed back that the speaker didn’t ‘have a plan.’
Look, our plan is pretty simple: we’re just going to stand up for what we believe in as Republicans,’ Boehner said he shot back.
The Ohio Republican said his relationship with Hannity, after that conversation, never got any better.
Hannity made that clear in a tweet Friday.
‘John Boehner will go down in history as one of the worst Republican speakers in history. He’s weak, timid and what’s up with all the crying John?’ the Fox News Channel host tweeted. ‘There was not a single time I was around him when he didn’t just reek of cigarette smoke and wine breath,’ Hannity added.
‘I’m glad he finally found his true calling in life in the “weed industry,”‘ Hannity said in a second tweet.
Boehner has lobbied for a cannabis group since leaving office.
Boehner (right) referred to Rep. Michele Bachmann (left) as a ‘lunatic’ and said she was one of the ‘first prototypes’ out of Fox News Channel’s laboratory of ‘fringe characters’
TEA PARTY MEMBER MICHELE BACHMANN WAS A ‘LUNATIC’
Boehner recalled a conversation he had with Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, who had presidential ambitions.
Bachmann was one of the ‘fringe characters’ that Fox was responsible for turning into a media star, Boehner said. ‘One of the first prototypes out of their laboratory was a woman named Michele Bachmann,’ he said of the overall trend.
Bachmann, who was starting her third term in Congress, told Boehner she wanted to be put on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is the House’s most powerful.
That was never going to happen because she would need the approval of the Steering Committee – so it was technically out of his hands – but Boehner was going to be put in a tough position because she didn’t do nuance.
When he diplomatically told her no, she pushed back saying, ‘Well, then I’ll just have to go talk to Sean Hannity and everybody at Fox. And Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and everybody else on the radio, and tell them that this is how John Boehner is treating the people who made is possible for the Republicans to take back the House.’
Boehner introduces Sen. Ted Cruz (pictured) as the ‘new head lunatic leading the way’ adding that ‘there is nothing more dangerous than a reckless a**hole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else’
Ted Cruz responded Friday to an audio clip of John Boehner telling him to f*** himself with a ‘Mean Girls’ gif
‘I wasn’t the one with the power, she was saying. I just thought I was. She had the power now,’ Boehner said. ‘She was right, of course.’
Boehner ended up putting Bachman on the House Intelligence Committee, admitting that she ‘did her homework’ and impressed other members on the panel.
TED CRUZ: THE LEADER OF THE ‘CHAOS CAUCUS’
Boehner concluded his excerpt by previewing what happened to the ‘chaos caucus’ in the next cycle.
‘Ladies and gentleman, meet Senator Ted Cruz,’ Boehner wrote, referring to the Texas Republican who took office in 2013. Boehner dubbed Cruz the ‘new head lunatic leading the way.’
‘There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless a**hole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else,’ Boehner said.
Boehner ended the chapter with a cliffhanger: ‘[Cruz] enlisted the crazy caucus of the GOP in what was a truly dumbass idea. Not that anybody asked me.’
He was likely previewing the chaotic 2013 government shutdown.
On Friday, Axios reporter Jonathan Swan shared a clip of Boehner’s audiobook, in which he randomly inserts, ‘P.S., Ted Cruz, go f*** yourself.’
Cruz responded to the tweet by sharing a ‘Mean Girls’ gif that read, ‘Why are you so obsessed with me?’
Boehner reveals he clashed with Rupert Murdoch at meetings in the 1990s, when Fox News was in its early days, and believes Roger Ailes ‘got swept into the conspiracies and the paranoia’ of birtherism conspiracy theories. Ailes and Murdoch are pictured in 1996