John Boehner Will Be As Dangerous As We Allow Him To Be

December 13, 2010


(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – Soon to be Speaker of the House John Boehner was the subject of a piece on 60 Minutes last night.  I personally learned nothing new about him and I certainly understand why the legendary CBS show would profile him as he is about to begin one of the most challenging leadership posts in recent history.  John Boehner, like it or not, is the man who will decided and set the House agenda and, like it or not, Democrats are going to have to learn how to play politics in a very different way and with a very different tone.

How outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi directs the Democratic Caucus in that Minority role will be the tempo setter for the 112th Congress.  I would suggest that Pelosi’s job is a great deal more difficult one than Boehner’s.  Pelosi has to decide what fights to fight, she has to start strengthening the base of the Democratic Party and she also has to build consensus on the reelection of President of Barack Obama.  None of those challenges are easy or given winners.One of the things we learned last week is that the mostly lazy electorate has a voice and when President Obama make the announcement one week ago today that he had come to a compromise with Republicans on tax cuts and unemployment benefits, Progressives were profoundly angry and vocal, finally.  This just serves as a single example of what is to come, I believe anyway.

But let us focus on Boehner for a moment, as he is being given the spotlight, and he relishes that role dearly.  I wrote some months back that we can learn a great deal about anyone by the way they have done things in the past, and assuming that is also true of John Boehner we pretty much know what we are going to get.  He will be seeking the microphone with every opportunity afforded to him.  He will say one thing and do another.  He does have a remarkable way of lying to the public, relying on them to not fact check what he says, there a long history of that with him. He will stick to his conservative agenda and will do one thing better than Pelosi ever did: he will put an item out there and not let it go away until he gets some kind of action.  He will never abandon his point of view and will give the same argument ad nauseum and beat us to death with it until it becomes the meme he needs it to be.  He comes from the old school of politics that if you say it enough times and never bend on your point of view people will start believing it as truth even if it’s not and the insanity of that amazes me in its simplicity.

John Boehner is a fighter and he is very good at beating you with kindness, kind of.  In last night’s 60 minutes program Boehner spoke glowingly about President Obama calling him “smart, brilliant”.  He then went on to say that they just had very different views of the world.  Sounds simple and kind enough, right?  Hold on, because in politics nothing is THAT simple.  We have all done it.  You know the old, “He’s a great guy, but did you see the way he messed up that job?”  or “She obviously knows what she’s doing she just doesn’t have the vision we were looking for”.  Again, sounds pedestrian enough unless you are talking about making progress.  Wrapping a piece of dog crap in a beautiful package with bows and ribbons still makes it a piece of dog crap.

Boehner is dangerous and will be unstoppable unless the Democratic leadership steps up their game considerably.  The people also need to step up their game considerably as well.  The effort it will take to slow down and stop John Boehner is going to take a massive effort on the parts of people like you and me.  I wish we could rely on Democrats to do that job themselves and because I’m feeling less than rousing affection for the President right now and I’m not sure I can count of him these days either.

Very soon we will learn the strategy and agenda of the Republican majority on the House and we will quickly learn the response of the Democrats as well.  Key to the opposition of the Republican agenda will be the Democrats in the Senate and although they do not have the supper majority they do have great power to stop the insanity, if they can figure out a way to control themselves and work carefully together.

This political scenario is not a new political challenge and Presidents Reagan and Clinton thrived with very similar challenges, and they managed to lead aggressively and with courage, and they won not only a second term but a great deal of respect and admiration of their constituency.  What we learn from that is pretty simple; if Democrats grow a pair and the President takes off his gloves, America can grow, prosper and lead once again. On that score we will have to wait and see of the current administration.

But for John Boehner, who knows that game and history as well as anyone, has his own version of history to write and trust me on this, unless we make every effort to stop him, we won’t.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at and can read his Blog at


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