Why did Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) stun colleagues and announce that he would resign from Congress and the speakership? Was it because he focused on the wrong priorities, from his party's perspective? No. Was it because he ignored the national debt or didn't want to defund Planned Parenthood? No.
The real reason: Boehner didn't sufficiently hate President Barack Obama. It simply wasn't a full-time obsession and occupation. And that's why Boehner had been hounded by right-wingers since the House became majority-Republican in 2011. Because of the constant hounding, Boehner chose to resign.
What's the worst thing you can say about another Republican—if you're a Tea Party Republican?
"Republican leadership is standing with Barack Obama in supporting the funding of Planned Parenthood," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) earlier this month. And if you're Republican, you can't "stand with Barack Obama" (how dare you?)—even when Obama said marriage was "between a man and a woman" and he agreed to make the George W. Bush tax cuts permanent.
What have Cruz and a faction of about 40 Republicans in the House done since arriving in Congress? Nothing. They spend their time focused 24-7 on Obama, who has beaten them on policy and in two national elections.
Republicans fully understand what politics is about—it's about control. It's about who makes the decisions and who has the power to put others in power. The president sets the agenda and selects the players who executive the government's laws. For nearly seven years, a number of Republicans have never gotten their minds around the concept that the chief executive is Barack Obama. They can't stand it. They've called the president "lawless" and "out of control" and cited a need to "reclaim our future" and "take our country back." All that talk started when President Obama arrived.
Speaking about what he hears from constituents, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told The Root on Monday that when his constituents see "the president violating the Constitution time after time and they see the House unwilling to challenge the president, and each time the president does that, he takes more congressional authority away and sticks it into the White House. They resent that. And they want somebody who will defend the Constitution and restore the institution."
"At the very core, John Boehner is not a far-right-wing, conservative, Tea Party Republican. He is a moderate Republican and has been for many years. But this extreme group in the Republican Conference demanded that he move to the right and stay to the right. … They wanted to discredit the president. They wanted to impeach the president and question his authenticity. They didn't want any legislative achievements at all under this president," said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) on Monday to radio host Joe Madison.
In the end, Boehner couldn't have enough Obamacare repeals or anti-abortion votes to satisfy the right wing. He couldn't allow enough hearings on what happened in 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, or some other manufactured "scandal" to make the right wing happy. No matter how far Boehner went against the president, it was never far enough for the Tea Party.
A year after President Obama was elected, the political realignment against him began. First there were Republicans putting money into state races and controlling redistricting, which then led to racially monolithic congressional districts and the "packing" of African Americans into fewer districts in states like Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia. Then, in 2010, there was the biggest flip of seats in the U.S. since 1948. Democrats lost 63 seats, and white Democrats began to vanish in the South.
That was then followed by historic obstruction and blocking Obama's legislative agenda and judicial appointments. The House under Boehner has been the least productive ever and has had the lowest approval rates ever.
Obama was elected the first black president of the U.S. Then what happened? Historic obstruction. And now that obstruction has led to the resignation of a Republican speaker. What's next? Obama has only one more year left in office, and the man who may be the next speaker, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), waits in the wings. Despite all the country’s needs, another government shutdown also looms. Whether or not it happens, or McCarthy takes the helm, the forecast for Congress' ability to get anything done remains dire.