... a memoir that often reads like [Boehner's] simply here to share some of his favorite tales over a couple of drinks ... Boehner is candid but never cruel in his recollections, with the exception perhaps of Sen. Ted Cruz ... It's refreshing to read a memoir with a politician's honest accountings of repeated failures rather than self-inflated successes.
Written in his folksy manner, On the House is certainly more entertaining than the standard 'halls of power' narratives, as Boehner calls them ... But as a work of history, the book falls short. Most important, Boehner doesn’t acknowledge the role that his generation of Republicans played in building the bridge from Ronald Reagan’s era to our current times ... until senior Republicans acknowledge how they helped radicalize the party, there is little hope that it will transform itself. Boehner’s memoirs are an X-ray into the mind of Reagan-era Republicans who did whatever was necessary to win and who today are seeing the high costs of their decisions.
Reading John Boehner‘s political memoir is probably a lot like sitting down next to an old timer at the bar where he worked growing up in Ohio. There’s a lot of talk about the way things used to be and, before you know it, you’ve had one too many and you’re not sure how you’ll get home...That is to say, the former Republican House speaker is good company throughout On the House, out this week. You can practically hear him uncorking another bottle of merlot as he literally curses the colleagues who made his job unbearable ... As with barstool tales, however, you might be left wondering what it all adds up to. Boehner indulges in lengthy digressions about high school football with Gerry Faust and golf with Jerry Ford. Even the juiciest stories from Congress aren’t particularly surprising, given Boehner’s well-known contempt for Republicans who were more interested in making headlines than making laws ... Trump isn’t a major figure in the book, since Boehner watched his administration from the sidelines after retiring from Congress in 2015. Depending on your appetite for all things Trump, this leaves the book feeling pleasantly retro or frustratingly archaic.
There’s an odd and poignant disconnect between the book’s tone and its unsettling subtext. The voice is warm, engaging, occasionally profane...It’s as if Boehner himself hasn’t quite processed the transformation of the sunny 'morning in America' Republicans he joined in the 1980s into the dark conspiracy theorists who dog-whistled a mob to the Capitol on Jan. 6...Still, having his excoriating assessments collected between hard covers makes for a powerful indictment, the more so because Boehner’s book vividly captures the growing horror of a bartender’s kid who evolved from a reflexive Democrat to a Reagan Republican to a tea party whipping boy ... Mostly, Boehner is clear-eyed about his weaknesses and knows how to compensate for them.
... very entertaining, very frustrating ... very much a response-volume to the Trump presidency as much as it’s anything else ... [Boehner] is referring to the rabid, scorched-earth tenor of modern American politics, of course, and although he seems unwilling to ascribe the beginning of that tenor to his grandstanding old colleague Newt Gingrich, he’s perfectly willing to blame lots of other people ... Earthy, explicit language runs throughout the book. It reflects the way Boehner sounds in everyday conversation, and it’s clearly intended to convey sincerity. And it does, all too well. The cumulative impression is far from a compliment to its author. He comes across as a shallow, foul-mouthed, opportunistic dimwit who’s the hero of his own story only because he’s not one of the crazies. He implicitly characterizes himself as a rumpled but fundamentally honest avatar of the old, effective, non-crazy Washington of decades past, but it’s not tough to look good when you’re comparing yourself to outright traitors like Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley ... Any reading of Boehner’s book makes unavoidable the conclusion that although he’s not a bad American, he was still a pretty bad politician.
Every page is heavy with stock phrases, and the author is constantly remarking on things he’ll 'never forget as long as I live.' Occasionally the writing is dreadful ... Mr. Boehner’s criticisms of his former antagonists on the right have almost exclusively to do with tactics, not with substance. He fails to acknowledge the distinction, although he insists repeatedly that he agreed with their stated goals ... It’s easy to appreciate Mr. Boehner’s frustrations with the crazies of his party. But after two or three decades of the GOP 'getting stuff done,' what did he expect?