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Thursday, December 16, 2010
Poltroon, Whey-face, Sissy, Softy, Whiner, Wimp, Wuss, Crybaby, player of the house, or sensitive man. John Boehner’s sobfest on “60 Minutes” profiled last Sunday has fueled the debate on when it’s ever appropriate for Senators or for that matter, men to cry in public.
Barbara Walters said the incoming speaker of the House has an emotional problem, and that if Nancy Pelosi had been such a serial bawler, she’d never have heard the end of it. Walters’s colleague on “The View,” Joy Behar, called Boehner “The Weeper of the House.” And Sean Hannity of Fox said people should lay off Boehner, because when righties cry it’s not a sign of weakness.
Around Washington, he’s known as a chain-smoking, Merlot-swilling, golf-loving conservative hardliner. Lobbyists love him, no more so than when he handed out checks from the tobacco industry to compliant members of Congress on the House floor.
Tan mans tears shed most often when he speaks about how he rose from his humble past, the son of a bar owner, one of 12 children who grew up in a small home with a single bathroom.
“Making sure these kids have a shot at the American Dream like I did is very important,” he said, choking up, when asked on “60 Minutes” about his crying.
The American Dream that Boehner evokes between tears has never been more threatened. By some measures, social mobility — that is, the ability of people to move up a notch in class — is at an all-time low in this country. Poor Americans now have less than a 5 percent chance of rising to the upper-middle-class within their lifetimes.
At the same time, the gap between the rich and poor, and the concentration of wealth owned by those at the very top, has never been so great. After examining these trends, The Economist wrote that “the United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.”
But a look at Boehner’s record during his two decades in Congress shows a man who has voted against nearly every boost for the working stiff. There’s no empathy for those with the longest shots at the American Dream in his voting pattern. Instead, we see a politician who is hard-hearted in his legislative treatment of the people now coping with the kind of economic conditions in which the Boehner family grew up.
Numerous studies have shown that what knocks people out of the middle class, or keeps them from ever joining it, is a catastrophic bill or two, usually from getting sick and not having health care. Then, those debts go on credit cards, which leads to a life filled with high interest rates and limited choices.
Rep. John Boehner was fighting back tears after the midterm elections. Against this backdrop, Boehner has fought against strivers and strugglers at the lower end, while shilling for ever-more concentrated corporate power and banker control. The one thing that stirs his passion is tax cuts. But nearly half of American households don’t pay any income tax at all, so Boehner’s crusade doesn’t affect them. And a decade of aggressive tax-cutting has done nothing to reverse the woes of everyday working people.
Boehner voted for the major trade agreements that make it easier to ship jobs overseas, while voting against assistance to workers who lose jobs to globalization. He voted no on expanding health care for poor children, no on raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, and no on a bill to allow people to purchase F.D.A.-certified prescription drugs at a cheaper price from certain countries.
Boehner wants to deny health care to poor children, let millionaires hold onto more of their money, all the while blocking a small raise for the lowest earners and prevent people on fixed incomes from getting a break on the costliest item in their personal budget — their meds.
Boehner received a zero rating from Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit founded in 1979 to give average people a greater voice on tax policy amidst a stadium full of lobbyists for the rich.
More recently, Johnny voted against modifying bankruptcy rules, rebuffing an effort to help people avoid mortgage foreclosures. He said no to the federal rescue of General Motors, which saved the American auto industry countless jobs, many which are in Boehner’s district. Lastly John-John gave a thumbs down to regulation of the subprime mortgage industry.
Great record for a man whom can cry at a whim for his own device, but yet when it comes to the Americans whom he represents, screw them! This is not just a John Boehner mentality, as many righties seem to have morphed from the same mold.
No matter how you slice, Boehner’s life story never gave him a more capacious governing vision for the folks he knew in his hometown of Reading, Ohio. When he turns on the faucet while talking about them, it raises two questions:
Does Boehner cry because he escaped that fate? Or is it because he has become a pitiful politician whose votes show he really could give a rats ass for the people he left behind?