John Boehner is doing a book tour, and that means John Boehner is doing interviews. If you know anything about his new, pulls-no-punches tell-all, that means fireworks are always possible.
Boehner had those fireworks primed and ready to go during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s Meet the Press. Toward the end of the interview, host Chuck Todd asked the Ohio Republican and former U.S. House Speaker if he’d ever return to politics.
“I’d rather set myself on fire than to run for office again,” Boehner replied with a wry grin. But then, Todd immediately spoiled the whole game by admitting that he’d asked the question hoping for that kind of response. A bemused Boehner listens along, his face temporarily frozen, before responding.
“You’re a [BLEEP],” he blurted out, with CNN’s production team censoring out Boehner as he clearly called Todd “a shit.” Then he said it again with a slight — a very slight — chuckle.
Todd laughed. “I assume I’m getting that as a compliment. I’ll take that as a backhanded compliment,” he said, either misreading Boehner’s tone or just trying to move past the awkward moment. It didn’t work though. Boehner fell silent for the remaining 20 seconds or so of airtime — which is a lot of time in TV terms! — even ignoring Todd’s parting words and cue to say goodbye.
Boehner is of course the Republican leader who presided over the GOP in the House of Representatives during the rise of the Tea Party movement. He enabled party members who flirted with more open appeals to racists in America, and in many ways his time in office helped to set the stage for the United States’ steep decline under Donald Trump.
The former politician has started to rehabilitate his public profile in more recent years, getting behind a growing nationwide push to legalize cannabis and speaking in increasingly stark and mean-spirited terms about his former GOP colleagues, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz in particular.
All of which is to say: This clip is funny stuff, but let’s not lose perspective on who Boehner is and the ways he contributed to the ongoing degradation of U.S. society.