Former House Speaker John Boehner reminded conservatives why they hate him at a speech at Stanford University Wednesday night. He vilified Ted Cruz while praising Barack Obama, accepted Donald Trump as the “presumptive nominee,” and had some of the kindest words for self-described socialist Bernie Sanders.
Unbelievably, Boehner compared Cruz to Satan himself. Granted, the former House speaker set a “joking, yet blunt” attitude, but he reserved no such vitriol for prominent Democrats like Obama, Sanders, and presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said when asked his opinions on the Texas senator. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
This may come as a surprise to the 62 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who consider Cruz to be a member of the hated “establishment.” While some Republican leaders have endorsed the Texas senator, he is still the most stringently orthodox conservative stick-in-the-mud in the presidential race. If such a Tea Party champion is now considered the “establishment,” maybe conservatives will have to rethink their hatred towards it.
Boehner may have attacked Obama’s sharpest critic, but he had positive words for the president himself. The Stanford Daily reported that the former speaker “reflected positively on his relationship with Obama. Although he acknowledged that the two disagree, Boehner said the two get along well.” While it is good to make friends across the aisle, the sharp criticism against a fellow Republican — one of the most insistent and orthodox conservatives in recent memory — contrasted with praise for the putative head of the Democratic Party strikes conservatives the wrong way.
The former House speaker also praised Hillary Clinton, after briefly mocking her sexist campaign. “Oh, I’m a woman, vote for me,” he said, but the crowd reacted negatively. Later, he admitted that he has known Clinton for 25 years and finds her to be very accomplished and smart.
Boehner also added that he thinks Bernie Sanders is a nice guy and the most honest politician in the race, even though he disagrees with the Vermont senator’s positions on nearly all of the issues.
The former House speaker also described the two other Republican candidates as friends. He recalled playing golf with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump for years, and said they were “texting buddies.” Despite Trump being short of the 1,237 delegates required to win the nomination, Boehner accepted that The Donald is the presumptive Republican nominee.
While he did not praise Trump’s policies, the former speaker said he would vote for The Donald in a general election. He said he would not, however, vote for Cruz.
Kasich, on the other hand, “requires more effort on my behalf than all my other friends … but he’s still my friend, and I love him,” Boehner said.
Next Page: Boehner predicts Biden candidacy, says Reagan would have been a “moderate” today.
Despite the confusion and surprises that have already come in the race, the former speaker predicted one more big reveal. He speculated that surprises could come if Clinton’s emails become a larger scandal. “Don’t be shocked … if two weeks before the convention, here comes Joe Biden parachuting in and Barack Obama fanning the flames to make it happen.” While the chances that an indictment is coming unfortunately remain small, there is always hope.
As if Boehner’s attacks on Cruz and praise for Obama, Sanders, and Clinton were not enough, the former speaker also attacked conservatives who look to Ronald Reagan as a small-government ideologue.
“Well you know I’m a big fan of Ronald Regan,” the former speaker said. “But I love all these knuckelheads talking about the party of Reagan. He would be the most moderate Republican elected today.”
While the Reagan hagiography has gotten a bit out of hand, it is not likely that the former president would have gone along with George W. Bush and Barack Obama as they increased the size and scope of government. He might have found common ground, but there is evidence he would have struck a hard bargain — much harder than Boehner did on his way out.