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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

John Boehner

(Above, John Boehner; right, actor Robert Conrad)

John Boehner has been in the news a fair amount recently. Now that Boehner is looking like the next Speaker of the House, post-partisan President Obama has elevated his name recognition by singling him out for ridicule on a number of occasions.

It's striking how much Boehner looks, carries himself, and acts just like a corporate CEO. (He also looks a little like Robert Conrad, star of the 1960's TV show The Wild, Wild West.)

Boehner is good-looking, but in a slick way: the cut of his suit is always stylish, his tie perfectly knotted, and never a hair out of place. These all suggest a vain man; the perma-tan confirms it.

Boehner's deep voice inspires confidence. And he carries himself with the erect bearing of a military man (he enlisted in the Navy but was honorably discharged after eight weeks for medical reasons). Google-image him and you won't see a picture of him smiling until the ninth page; this is often the mark of a man who feels he has to accommodate no one. Boehner's usual look is more one of grimness. Of course, he is almost always in his professional role when the publicly available photos of him are shot. Perhaps his private family albums show a more jovial and relaxed sort of guy, but that seems unlikely.

He also behaves like a CEO. When he issued orders for the Congressional Republicans to "knock it off" after they had been seen partying with comely female lobbyists in DC, he had the sound of someone used to ordering people around. And he is always on point. He never wavers from the party line, much like a CEO who always talks about how bright his company's future is -- regardless of the facts.

Sure enough, according to Wikipedia, Boehner started his career "with a Nucite Sales, a small sales company in the packaging and plastics industry, where he eventually became President of the firm." (How long before someone in our unbiased media points out that he is a plastic, pre-packaged politician?) In any case, it's not coincidence that Boehner comes across like a salesman/CEO.

When a reporter recently suggested that Boehner give up smoking with Obama, Boehner replied, "Thank you for your suggestion." The reply captured Boehner's persona perfectly: he could have made a joke but refrained, not wanting to chance being misinterpreted. And while what he said was technically neutral, the air of warfare was unmistakeably in the air.

Boehner is too slick to inspire trust, but formidable enough to inspire confidence -- and also a little bit of fear.

You don't get the sense that he would take teasing well; this is, of course, one mark of a narcissistic personality. On the other hand, you do get the sense that he could fend for himself without a Teleprompter.

Expect to see a lot of him in the next few years.

Addendum: this post was written before Boehner's penchant for crying became public: see this post for a more recent view of the Speaker.


Anonymous said...

Not if I move to Canada!

John Craig said...

Guy -- I don't find this guy as scary as Obama. Boehner is just a typical corporate exec: what you see is what you get. He's a manager, a company man.

Obama got elected as a guy who would reach across the aisle and be post-partisan, post-racial, hire no lobbyists, have no earmarks, appoint justices who were Constitutionalists who wouldn't legislate from the bench, have open and transparent dealings on health care, etc, etc. What most people saw was not what they got.

Anonymous said...

"...but formidable enough to inspire confidence..."
I for one have no confidence in the R's and their leadership. Any confidence would have to be earned by more than a good suit and an investment banker's tie.

(Which is not to say, as you know, that I have any confidence in the others.)

John Craig said...

Guy -- You're not impressed by a good suit and tie? A former i-banker like you? C'mon, let's show a little loyalty. And while we're on the subject of loyalty, you can't leave for Canada -- Great Bay needs you.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm more partial to Hermes and Ferragamo (betraying my white shoe sensibility and Eurotrash affectations) than those shiny, lurid things favored by the narcissistic power-pols.

As for Great Bay, I'm not much use to them at the moment but I hope they will be happy to have me back after I have been to Canada to get the health care I need at one-third its cost in the US.


John Craig said...

Ferragamo and Hermes?! I had no idea you were so pretentious! I'm sure that when I'm dressed up in my best clothes my entire outfit probably cost less than one of your pairs of shoes.

I suspect that once you've been to Canada and experienced their socialized medicine and have your left arm reattached to the right arm socket and vice versa, Great Bay will have little use for you.

Anonymous said...

Having grown up with the socialized health care in the UK it happens that my left and right arms have already been reattached in the opposite sockets so I am expecting major improvements in function after my Canadian sojourn.

You don't think I paid for my clothes do you??? They were gifts from my grateful clients in the luxury goods industries. As for the shoes, I have pledged them as collateral with the Fed and I am financing their "purchase" with no money down at zero percent interest rate.


John Craig said...

Geez, you're going to be really scary then -- no more 100 fly bets.

I find myself wondering, why would they choose you to cover the Hermes/Ferragamo accounts? I sure hope it's not 'cause you fit in well with them.