According to legend the Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse, who was the bravest warrior in the Battle of the Little Bighorn where Custer and most of the 7th Cavalry were killed, and who himself was murdered by the US Army while a prisoner at Fort Robinson, started every day by yelling ‘Hoka Hey’, today is a good day to die. According to Wiktionary it is an expression of willingness and even eagerness to give one’s life in the name of one’s cause, a believe that one should never live a moment of one’s life with any regrets or tasks left undone, which would make today as good a day as any to die. John Boehner is no Crazy Horse, but last Friday he had a minor Hoka Hey moment when he announced that he would resign as Speaker of the US House of Representatives and leave the House on October 30, 2015. Unlike the Oglalas, who fought as a team and followed their leader without any reservations, the members of the Republican tribe Boehner headed fought each other as much as their Democratic counterparts, and as a result got little or nothing done. The 114th US Congress was the least productive in history, allowing Obama to govern with some effectiveness in spite of GOP majorities in the House and the Senate.
It is not entirely clear in the name of which cause Boehner gives up his position. He maintains that he did it to ‘protect the institution,’ apparently referring to the House. The Tea Party fraction of his caucus is willing to shut down the government unless Planned Parenthood is defunded, and threatens to derail Boehner’s re-election as Speaker if he doesn’t cooperate. Therefore the institution Boehner is really protecting is the Republican Party, which would suffer greatly from a government shutdown or a prolonged fight for the leadership of the House. With Trump, Carson and Fiorina as frontrunners in the race for the GOP nomination the party is getting enough bad publicity as it is, and Boehner doesn’t want to make things worse. As for tasks left undone, Boehner’s House has been completely incompetent where it comes to solving America’s most urgent problems. The repair of highways and bridges is funded with patchwork legislation, a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with bipartisan support was never brought up for a vote in the House, and Obama has to fight global warming all by himself.
There is quite a bit of speculation that the recent visit by the Pope contributed to Boehner’s decision, partly because it was a highlight in his career that cannot be surpassed, but maybe even more because the Pope came with demands that Boehner knows he cannot fulfill. Being kind to immigrants, caring for the poor and shepherding God’s creation are not exactly the strengths of the GOP, which is better at xenophobia, catering to the rich and allowing pollution.
As for never living a moment of one’s life with any regrets, it seems unlikely that Boehner meets that standard. He was a failed leader, who spent more time trying to take healthcare away from Americans in need and promoting an insane project like the Keystone pipeline than conducting the people’s business. The annoying memos he sent out every day amply document his guffaws.
The happy hunting grounds Boehner will retreat to are golf courses and bottles of Merlot. He may decide to pursue a lucrative lobbying career as most of his equally failed predecessors did, contributing to the general hypocrisy in Washington DC. It would be his last failure.