Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Real John Boehner

Who is John Boehner?  If you got all your information from President Obama, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, The Washington Post and The New York Times you would certainly think he was a corrupt, empty suit, out of touch, and oh, I almost forgot...exceptionally tanned, elitist.  It's a sad state of American journalism that you have to look across the pond to The Telegraph to get more than DNC talking points on the man who may become Speaker of the House in 2011.  Tony Harnden writes (via KJ at The Corner):
Democrats have started a website that claims he spent $1 million on "luxury hotels, exclusive golf resorts and gourmet dining for himself and his fat-cat contributors". On the I-75 freeway outside Cincinnati, a huge poster showing a tanned Mr Boehner playing golf accuses him of teeing off 119 times in a year.

Yet Mr Boehner's life story is the type of classic up-by-the-bootstraps tale of the American Dream that can put a tear in a voter's eye. As his story becomes better known, the Democrats could even be drawing favourable attention upon him. Right now, most Americans have never heard of Mr Boehner, and fewer still can pronounce his name, which rhymes with Rayner. The alleged elitist country club Republican is an Ohio Congressman who grew up in near poverty.

His sister Lynda Meineke, who is 51, is a waitress and bar tender at Andy's Cafe in Carthage, Ohio, a family business that was founded by their grandfather Andy Boehner in 1938. As a child, one of Mr Boehner's jobs was to mop the floor.

Sitting outside the bar this week, sipping a bottle of Bud Light and smoking a cigarette, Mrs Meineke described her childhood as "cramped" but happy. "We learned how to share. If there was a toy, it wasn't just for you but for all the younger ones."

Mr Boehner, 61, is the second of 12 who grew up in a German-Irish family in Reading, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. All but two of them still live within a few miles of each other. Two are unemployed and most of the others have blue-collar jobs.

The future Congressman started work as a janitor and took seven years to get his degree – the first in the family to do so – because he had several jobs to pay his way. He joined a plastics and packaging company, rising to president before entering local politics by being elected to the town board.

The family house on Hill Street initially had two bedrooms with Mr Boehner and three brothers sleeping in one, their sister in another and their parents on a pull-out bed in the living room. Their father Earl later built a three-bedroom extension.

Mrs Meineke, whose husband is an unemployed builder, still lives in the modest house. She remembers her father rising at dawn to go off to the café, which he ran with his twin brother and was a favourite with truck drivers.

"Then my mother would get up before all of us, and drink coffee and listen to the radio, packing our lunches and writing our names on all the brown bags.
Read the whole thing.

There can and will be honest and energetic debate over whether Boehner is the right man to fill the top job in the House if the GOP wins back the majority in November.  Fred Barnes predicts Eric Cantor will become speaker.  Perhaps he will be challenged by one of the Tea Party superstars like Paul Ryan or Michelle Bachmann.  It's too soon to tell.  But in my view, conservatives should speak up and speak out for this guy:

I think the background music "Don't Tread on Me" by Metallica adds a nice touch.  (h/t fearblocke)

Update:  The ubiquitous crew of has made Harnden's piece a Must Read for the weekend!

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