So, what’s going on.  Basically, if you want to actually help govern a country (which Boehner does, whether I agree with him or not on how it should be governed) there’s a big part of the Republican party that wants nothing to do with you.  Yes, that is nuts, but alas many Republican rank-and-file– and worse, members of Congress– value making statements and ideological purity over an actual functioning democracy.  Here’s a chart from Molly Ball’s piece regarding the shutdown two years ago:

Boehner’s problem is not where he is on the issues.  His problem is that he’s not crazy.  Here’s Chait:

The small band of right-wing noisemakers in the House who made Boehner’s existence a living hell could not identify any important substantive disagreements with the object of their wrath. (The one exception to this is Boehner’s brief, aborted 2011 attempt to craft a long-term debt deal with the Obama administration, which he abandoned under pressure from Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor.) The source of the disagreement was tactical, not philosophical. Boehner’s tormentors refused to accept the limits of his political power.

This was the proximate source of the struggle that appears to have finally sapped Boehner’s will (or ability) to cling to his title. The usual band of irreconcilables in the House have recently demanded that Republicans shut down the federal government to force President Obama to agree to zero out funding for Planned Parenthood. Boehner and the party leadership have resisted not because they agree with funding Planned Parenthood, but because this tactic has no chance of success. The irreconcilables have tried to pressure him into yet another futile gesture by openly threatening, once again, to depose him.

Boehner has never supported any important aspect of the Obama agenda…

Boehner had the misfortune of leading, or attempting to lead, his party in an era when it had run up to the limits of crazy, where the only unexplored frontiers of extremism lay beyond the reach of its Constitutional powers. [emphasis mine]

And John Cassidy:

Not that he was a liberal, or even a liberal Republican. A staunchly pro-life Roman Catholic, he had a zero per cent rating from NARAL, the abortion-rights group; an A rating from the N.R.A. on gun issues; a rating of zero per cent on energy issues from the Campaign for America’s Future, a progressive group; a rating of seven per cent from the A.C.L.U. on civil-rights issues; and a rating of a hundred per cent from the United States Chamber of Commerce. He wanted to cut taxes, reduce the size of government, and repeal Obamacare. But, in today’s Republican Party, none of this was enough to prevent accusations that he was a RINO—Republican In Name Only.

And Yglesias:

But this conflict between Boehner and his base was much more about tactics than about objectives. Conservative grassroots activists have repeatedly pressed Boehner to endorse high-stakes gambles to try to force the Obama administration to make policy concessions that Congress lacks the constitutional authority to enact on its own. Boehner has repeatedly tried to push in the direction of caution, preferring to defer potentially unpopular conflicts and focus on trying to win elections. Many conservatives see this as a lack of principle or commitment, while most moderate-to-liberal observers think Boehner is merely being practical. But the result was that Boehner’s speakership was unusually divided between his duties as speaker of the House, a figure who’s supposed to keep American governance on a prudent course, and his role as leader of the Republican Party.

Boehner basically had an increasingly impossible job of trying to get some rational behavior out of a caucus with a lot of fundamentally irrational members.  No wonder he finally threw in the towel.  Good for the nutjobs.  Bad for democracy.

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