" ... and the moon became as blood." - Revelation 6:12
On Sunday night, my family and I gathered to watch the harvest moon be devoured. I brought our small telescope out onto the back porch, but the brilliance of that celestial disk rendered the thing about useless. My daughter pelted from window to window yelling, "Daddy, the moo! Mumma, the moo!" until my wife and I nearly wet ourselves in an ecstasy of giggling. After we put the girl down for the night, my wife and I just sat outside and watched. Ain't no lights out here. When the moon turned to blood - to crib a line from St. John's Revelation - Mars roared red in reply on the low horizon, and the Milky Way itself spilled out on the black velvet sky like diamond shards. Some things truly beggar comparison. This was one such.
Another event that beggars comparison is the sudden self-propelled ejection by GOP Rep. John Boehner from his sinecure as speaker of the House. Jim Wright did it in 1989 when Newt Gingrich chased him out over an ethics violation. Before that was Henry Clay, who resigned the position in 1814, 1820 and finally in 1825, some four decades before the last year of the Civil War. That's it. That's the list, in totality. Only three guys in almost three centuries have up and walked from the third most powerful job in the US government before serving out their term.
The infrequency of a blooded harvest moon is nothing compared to the rarity of an event like this ... and to continue borrowing from St. John, the Republicans are going to be seeing blood on the moon because of this for quite a long time to come.
By now, everyone in the US knows that Boehner will be hanging up his cleats on Halloween and taking his pumpkin hue to some unknown future. The question is why. There have been 53 speakers of the House. Exactly three of them, including Boehner, have booked out of the office before serving their term out. Consider the presidency: Leaving aside mortal departure due to violence or disease, only one - Nixon - flapped his wings and flew away before his term was over. Lyndon Johnson doesn't count, because though he chose not to run for re-election, he stayed at his post until the last dish was rinsed.
Word has it that Boehner is putting on his boogie shoes because his fractious caucus is out to get him, because the stress of the position with those people involved was too much to bear. I'm not buying it for a nanosecond. This kind of thing doesn't just happen because "People are mean" or "I want to spend more time with my family," or even because "I got a seven-figure lobbying gig, so long suckers."
I have absolutely, positively nothing concrete to base this on, but I'm telling you straight up: Something is out of joint. We may find out in a week, in a year or in 10 years, but one of these days the true tale of this sudden evacuation will out. It's just too weird. If Aaron Sorkin tried to cobble this into a script, he'd get laughed out of the building. John Boehner is the speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States. Soon, he'll be the third guy to quit prematurely since they saw the whites of British eyes on Bunker Hill. To quote Ted Logan from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K."
In this veil of mystery and political intrigue, we are left for the time being with the impending bloodbath, and oh, brothers and sisters, this one is going to be a true doozy. GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy represents a district in the center of Southern California, and is widely considered to be the front-runner to replace Boehner. McCarthy is the kind of guy that will make people miss Boehner: He is a creature of the right-wing nightmare organization Americans For Prosperity, doesn't believe in climate change or a woman's right to choose and has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more times than you've gone to the bathroom this month ... though those efforts - yours and his - all got flushed.
There are other candidates for the speakership - GOP Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida has announced his intention to give it a go, and zippity doo dah damn is he a case all by himself - but McCarthy appears to have the inside track. The real mayhem, however, comes if he wins. McCarthy is the House majority leader. If he wins the speaker's gavel, the majority leader's spot opens up, the dominoes start to tumble and the dogfight begins for real.
If they were smart, the GOP would elect some totally anonymous back-bencher to the speaker's chair and save themselves the trouble. Even a houseplant would do, a nice ficus, given how much this Congress is actually going to accomplish, but no. McCarthy will up-jump, and it will be war ... and that war won't stay in the House. The Senate's GOP majority will be forced to take position after position on the struggle in the House, and as we all know, Senators are not camera-shy. These dominoes don't stop.
Which leaves us with the GOP presidential candidates, who have to comment on Boehner's replacement, and comment on who replaces McCarthy as majority leader should he secure the gig, and comment on the mud fight that will ensue, and then comment on the comments made by the other GOP presidential candidates, and since this current GOP field is off-the-grid ridiculous, the comments as well as the comments on the comments will perfectly derange the entire conversation, as will the comments on the comments on the comments, and so forth.
John Boehner set his teeth to the go-ring of a hand grenade, pulled it, and tossed the bomb over his shoulder. That grenade will blow up the House GOP, the shrapnel will hit the Senate GOP, and the shock wave of the detonation will blow back the hair of every GOP presidential candidate in the race. Trust me on this: It's going to be astonishing.
Blood on the moon indeed.