Just what is it about being a “Speaker” that causes some people to lose control, get in trouble, or otherwise cause controversies?
This past week, House Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation not just from the speakership, but from the U.S. House of Representatives entirely. (Thank God.) Boehner is now known for his autocratic crackdown on Tea Party dissent. And his many crying fits. And his alleged alcoholism. (Yeah, but what congressman isn’t a drunk, a drug-addict, or a womanizer, or all of the above)? And now he’s leaving. One hopes ALL these jerks will follow him out the door, and not be replaced!
Before Speaker Boehner, there was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said about the Affordable Care Act: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” Pelosi also complained about “disparity in our country of income, where the wealthy people continue to get wealthier,” while she herself is part of the 0.1 percent. Of all the nerve, Nancy!
And then there was Speaker Dennis Hastert, under whose speakership earmarks (a.k.a. “pork”) increased like crazy, and especially to benefit himself. And while this year he has been indicted for the non-crime of withdrawing money from his own bank account, such withdrawals were allegedly to pay “hush money” to an alleged accuser of alleged sexual abuse while Hastert was a school teacher.
What is it with these people?!
And then there was Speaker Newt Gingrich: his House reprimand and $300,000 fine for ethics violations; his bogus “Contract With America”; his marriages, affairs and divorces (or vice versa); and his anti-freedom ignorance. Yes, he was “Mr. Speaker,” but certainly not “Mr. Brilliant.”
I can’t go any further back than that; my head is spinning.
Speaking of “Speakers,” you won’t believe just how bad it is with “Speakers” in Massachusetts.
Former Speaker Sal DiMasi was put on trial in 2011 for a kickback scheme to “line his own pockets,” and found guilty of conspiracy, fraud and extortion. That was after the previous Speaker, the retroactively disbarred Thomas Finneran, pleaded guilty in 2007 for felony obstruction of justice to avoid jail time in a redistricting case. Finneran then went on to be a radio talk show host, where he was known by other WRKO hosts and listeners as “Felon Finneran,” or just “The Felon.” Finneran is now a lobbyist, in Rhode Island. I’m shocked. And before Speaker Finneran was the previous Speaker, Charlie Flaherty, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to felony tax evasion and violating conflict of interest laws.
That’s three felon Massachusetts Speakers in a row, folks. Can any other state beat that?
The current Massachusetts Speaker of the House, Bob DeLeo, had a close brush with corruption exposure at last year’s trial of a former probation commissioner; but DeLeo wasn’t charged with anything despite questionable ties. He wasn’t even called as a witness, even though he probably should have been. And now, his fellow hacks at the State House want to help him to extend his time as Speaker by repealing Speaker term limits despite his earlier promise to quit at the end of his legal term limit. (Heh, that’s a new one.)
Poor Speaker Bob DeLeo recently had gastric sleeve weight loss surgery. I hope that helps. Coincidentally, previous to Speaker Flaherty was the 400-pound Speaker George Keverian, who had gastric bypass surgery in 2002, which did help him. He died a few years later, in 2009. During the 1980s and ’90s, when Speaker Keverian weighed 400 lbs, Howie Carr would refer to “George Keverian (D-Papa Gino’s)” in his Boston Herald columns. And he still does, apparently. But now, the formerly donut-munching Howie Carr himself also had gastric sleeve surgery for weight loss. That’s really catching on.
Anyway, whoever replaces Speaker John Boehner will be either a drunk, a crybaby, a fatso, corrupt, or all of the above. (Unless they draft Ron Paul, of course.)
This commentary originally appeared at Scott’s blog.
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