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Present at the Republican Self-Destruction

While former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner's recent memoir offers a tale of woe for his party, a new biography of Nancy Reagan shows just how far the institution has fallen. The big question now is whether the GOP will be able to reclaim respectability before it meets with complete ruin.

WASHINGTON, DC – Two books recently appeared that shed light on highly important aspects of US politics. Both offer views of the Republican Party’s decline from relative unity under Ronald Reagan – first as reflected in Karen Tumulty’s astonishing biography of Nancy Reagan; and then as portrayed by a recent Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

Boehner’s departure from politics in 2015 can be seen as an omen of what was about to become of his party. Caught between traditional politics and a new wave of radicalism, House Republican leaders haven’t been lasting long. Boehner’s successor, Paul Ryan, gave up politics after two terms as speaker. The current Republican House leader, Kevin McCarthy, flounders between fear of Donald Trump’s continuing influence and pressures from the less radical members who have wanted to break loose from Trumpism.

In his memoir, Boehner tells vivid stories with more than a dash of spiciness. In fact, the book’s herky-jerky sections read as if he dictated them. Sometimes, he surgically alters events. For example, in talking of Newt Gingrich having to give up the speakership after the 1998 midterm election, he hurries over the fact that House Republicans had lost seats, for which Gingrich’s bombastic style was blamed.

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