Tonight, President Obama will deliver a “healing message,” in Tucson, AZ at a memorial service for those who died in the tragic shooting there this weekend. The somber service, which is expected to attract up to 14,000 people, will feature prayers, the playing of the National Anthem, as well as reverent remarks from various officials from both sides of the aisle.
At around the same time, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will be slinging back cocktails with members of the Republican National Committee at a political party he’s hosting at the swanky National Harbor resort in the suburbs of D.C., Roll Call reports:
The Ohio Republican is holding a 7 p.m. cocktail reception Wednesday night for 168 RNC members, who are in the Washington area for an annual meeting. The event is sponsored by Boehner’s political action committee and will take place at Maryland’s National Harbor resort. [...]
A Boehner aide said the Speaker plans to leave the RNC party before Obama begins his remarks.
“Speaker Boehner will attend an organizational meeting with RNC members this evening, but will leave before the president’s speech begins,” Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz said.
Boehner delivered heartfelt remarks on the shooting on the House floor this morning, tearing up on several occasions, but the timing of Boehner’s party tonight is awkward, to say the least. House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) canceled an event today “because it would not be appropriate in light of the tragedy.”
But Boehner enjoys his parties. In July of 2009, Boehner interrupted House proceedings so Republican lawmakers could attend his annual “Boehner Beach Party” fundraiser with corporate lobbyists. “It’s just lobbyists and lawmakers getting drunk” on “Boehner’s ‘famous’ margaritas,” a “spy” told Fishbowl DC at the time.
Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, who served with Boehner in the 90s before getting a show on MSNBC, said in July that “[e]very Republican I talk to says John Boehner, by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars.” “John Boehner is known as a guy that likes to golf, likes to have a good time, and is not known as a hard worker,” Scarborough said the next day, defending his original comments.
Politico reported that Boehner declined an offer to travel on Air Force One to the memorial service in Tucson, choosing to remain in Washington instead for a prayer service and to attend an event for RNC chairman candidate Maria Cino.