‘WHY DID YOU GET ME SO DRUNK?’…. There was a Republican majority in the House for 12 years, ending in 2006, thanks in part to public opposition to the war in Iraq and the increasing unpopularity of the Bush/Cheney administration.
But it didn’t help that GOP lawmakers had become pretty comfortable with their excesses. Far-right lawmakers started sleeping around with increasing frequency; abuses of power became common; GOP members started getting arrested more frequently; and Republicans generally grew to tolerate an arrogant, permissive culture on the Hill.
After losing control, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had no intention of moving his party ideologically — if anything, the Republicans have grown considerably more extreme since becoming the minority party — but he did set out to clean up his smaller caucus’s act.
How’s that working out? Well, the GOP is still in the minority, but it nevertheless may have held onto some of its bad habits.
Washington is abuzz with rumors of late-night partying and of House Republicans inappropriately hanging out with female lobbyists.
But not everyone was taken by surprise. Minority Leader John Boehner has been working behind the scenes to address the issue for at least the past year and a half.
The Ohio Republican has had private conversations with several lawmakers asking them to curb their inappropriate behavior. Boehner told the lawmakers that it was a “distraction” from the party’s goal of taking back the House, according to several sources familiar with the one-on-one talks.
Despite Boehner’s effort to head off a scandal, the issue came to the forefront last week when a conversation that Rep. Lee Terry [R-Neb.] had with a woman at a GOP watering hole became public.
The conversation in question happened at the Capitol Hill Club during President Obama’s speech in June about the BP oil spill. Terry was reportedly overheard asking the women next to him, “Why did you get me so drunk?”
Terry denies having made the comment, but a longtime Capitol Hill Club member who overheard the exchange told Roll Call, “On the Hill, there’s a lot of older men that just go home when they’re done with votes. Then you have a smaller group that likes to knock back a few and have a good time.”
The incident came on the heels of former Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) being forced to resign in disgrace, after the lawmaker noted for touting abstinence-only programs was found to have carried on an extramarital affair with a member of his staff.
And now we’re seeing reports about Boehner intervening with other members of his caucus — some who’ve crossed misconduct lines, and some who’ve come close.