WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2015 — In the late summer of 1974, an embattled and teary-eyed Richard Nixon asked if history would “treat me more kindly than my contemporaries.” A flummoxed Secretary of State Henry Kissinger answered, “Certainly, definitely.”
Kissinger was lying through his teeth.
As Nixon sobbed, “Kissinger didn’t know what to do,” wrote the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
When “Nixon got down on his knees, Kissinger felt he had no alternative but to kneel down too … Kissinger touched the President, and then held him, tried to console him, to bring rest and peace to the man who was curled on the carpet like a child. The President of the United States.”
The next day, Aug. 8, 1974, Nixon resigned the presidency.
Last Friday, the Washington Post’s national political reporter Robert Costa told a similarly bizarre tale of a politician beaten down by the duties of office and in desperate need of divine intervention at a time of deep personal crisis.
“POLITICO’s Jake Sherman and I stood there [outside House Speaker John Boehner’s office] for an hour or so, steno pads in hand,” said Costa. “We had heard rumors from several lawmakers that Boehner was mulling retirement and that, as a Catholic, he privately saw the pope’s congressional visit, which he had orchestrated, as a fitting denouement to his long political career.”
But things took a decided turn toward the strange when Boehner approached the two reporters, leaned in close and “put his hands on our shoulders and nodded toward a small circular area near a bust of Winston Churchill.”
“The pope, he came up the steps right there. He came right here,” Boehner said pointing at the reporter’s feet. “When he gets here, there are all of these kids he is going to bless. And you know how I get.”
“You start crying?” asked Costa.
Undaunted, Boehner continued.
“Hold on, hold on,” commanded Boehner. “Let me finish. The pope says to me, ‘Please pray for me. Please pray for me.’”
It must have been at this point that Boehner realized he’d be just as competent intervening on behalf of the Vicar of Christ and against the deceits of the devil as he was intervening on behalf of Republican voters and against the wiles of President Obama.
Costa didn’t say whether Boehner asked him and Sherman to kneel in a hasty prayer before announcing his resignation from Congress.