John Boehner: Many in GOP today "believe more in making noise than in making policy"

Ex-House Speaker Boehner on future of GOP
Ex-House Speaker Boehner on future of GOP 08:59

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner is making big waves with his new Washington memoir in which he takes on many members of his own party, whom he calls "crazies."

In his book, "On the House" (which goes on sale Tuesday), Boehner writes about the changes in the Republican Party and how, in his years as speaker, he was serving as the mayor of "Crazytown," owing to "jackasses and media hounds" within the GOP.

"By 2013," he writes, "the 'chaos caucus' in the House had built up their own power base thanks to fawning right-wing media and outrage-driven fundraising."

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St. Martin's Press

Boehner differentiates between traditional Republicans and Trump Republicans, and states that Ronald Reagan wouldn't even recognize today's GOP:

"He sure as hell couldn't get elected in it. As a matter of fact, Reagan would be the most left-wing candidate in the GOP these days – by a mile."

On "CBS This Morning" Monday, co-host Anthony Mason asked, "The Trump Republicans are clearly in control of the party right now. And I'm wondering if you still feel at home in the Republican Party?"

"We've got some people in the party who believe more in making noise than they do in making policy," Boehner said. "I went to Washington to serve in the Congress not because I wanted to make noise but because I wanted to do something on behalf of our country. And I think if Republicans begin to focus more on the policies that we all believe in, we can unite the party in a place that Americans will recognize once again."

When asked who the leader of the Republican Party is today, Boehner replied, "Well, there's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party, like when I was there. Mitch McConnell plays a role, Kevin McCarthy plays a role. But clearly, Donald Trump is retired, unemployed, and appears to want to play some type of a role."

Mason asked Boehner about the former president's remarks over the weekend in which he called Senate Minority Leader McConnell a "dumb S.O.B." for accepting the election results. "What do you think rhetoric like that does to the Republican Party?"

"Well, I think rhetoric that inflames people is wrong," he said. "I don't care whether it's from the right or from the left. It just doesn't help our country in any way, shape, or form. And so, Republicans need to go back to [the principles] of the Republican Party. And frankly, I think the party will be much better off in the long run."

Of the noise-makers, Boehner writes that they had a "lunatic" leading them: "There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless a*****e who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz."

Co-host Gayle King asked Boehner, "What bugs you about him specifically?"

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Former House Speaker John Boehner.  CBS News

"Well, this guy was wasn't even a member of the United States House of Representatives. He was a member of the Senate, stirring up some of the crazies in my own caucus to cause all kinds of problems, and it's probably why I zeroed in on him, probably the only person in this book, in the way that I did. As I say in the book, there's nothing worse than a reckless jackass who thinks he's smarter than everybody else. …

"Growing up in my dad's bar, I learned the art of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. And the people in politics that I served with, a lot of them I disagreed with, but that didn't mean I had to be disagreeable. I've got as many Democrat friends as I've got Republican friends. You could do this job and respect the people on the other side who happen to have different views; this is not rocket science.

"And when it comes governing, it's about finding common ground. We're not always going to agree on everything. But the question is, where can we agree, where can we come together and to do what needs to be done to help the American people in their quest for the American dream and society?"

In the book Boehner discusses how the rise in partisan right-wing cable channels and social media has allowed politicians the ability to communicate directly to the public, in ways that can inflame.

Co-host Tony Dokoupil asked, "You don't really take on the subject of why that outrage and that fight-for-fight's-sake resonated with so many people. I mean, one theory of it is that for half the country, America is just changing too quickly for them to tolerate it. Is that how you see it?"

"Well, I don't get into why the crazies are the crazies," Boehner said. "But I do run into them, while I was in Congress and clearly since then. Some people have got a rather sour view of the United States.

"Listen: We're a great country. We're a large, diverse country, and we ought to embrace that. It's been great for our country over the last 240 years, and it will be great for the next 240 years if we embrace the fact that we're large, we're complex, we're very diverse. Let's put our arms around it and believe in it."

"On the House: A Washington Memoir" by John Boehner (St. Martin's Press) goes on sale April 13.

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.