Incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner is shedding so many tears in public that some are calling him the Weeper of the House. The Ohio Republican cries at every turn. There’s video of him crying on the House floor in 2007 when discussing the plight of soldiers being deployed to Iraq.
There’s another video of him crying on June 4, 2009 at the unveiling of a Ronald Reagan statue in the capitol. Last May, he cried when he accepted the pro-life Hyde Award. And, after he was re-elected to Congress in November, Boehner, the second-oldest of 12 children, started tearing up while recalling his hardscrabble upbringing in Reading, Ohio, a factory town just outside Cincinnati.
“Listen, I hold these values dear because I’ve lived them,” he said at the time. “I spent my whole life chasing… the American dream.” Then, the tears began flowing.
An appearance December 12 on CBS News’ 60 Minutes also featured waterworks. Leslie Stahl asked, “On election night, what made you sad, what – what got to you that night?”
With tears in his eyes, Boehner replied, “I was talking, trying to talk about the fact that I’ve been chasing the American Dream my whole career. There’s some – some things that are real – very difficult to talk about – family, kids, I can’t go to a school anymore. I used to go to a lot of schools. And, you see all these little kids running around. Can’t talk about it.”
Later in the interview, Boehner cried again when his wife, Debbie, said she was proud of him. Nodding toward the congressman, Stahl asked his wife, “You know what’s happening over here?” She answered, “Oh, yeah.”
Trying to deny the obvious, John Boehner said, “No, my nose is running.” But his wife interrupted, “That wasn’t a nose running” Stahl agreed: “No, it’s not. What set you off that time because she’s proud of you?” She then stated the obvious: “He cries all the time.”
Some are pointing to Boehner’s public crying as proof that it’s alright for men to show their emotions in public. But, imagine the public reaction if the one doing the crying was outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi instead of John Boehner. She would be accused of playing the female card and every other card in and out of the deck.
Ironically, the man who worked as a janitor at night to pay his way through college has a terrible record supporting legislation that would benefit people from a similar background. He earns a low-F on every NAACP Legislative Report Card, voting for legislation favored by the NAACP only 18 percent of the time in the 110th Congress (2008) and 16 percent of the time in the 111th Congress (2009). His life is one of contradictions:
• Although he talks about his heart melting at the mere sight of school children, Boehner was in the defeated minority when Congress passed the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007, which expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) so that every child living in the U.S. would be assured of high-quality health-care coverage.
• Boehner tearfully recalls that because of limited finances, it took him seven years to complete college. However, he voted against a bill that reauthorized the Higher Education Act for five years and increased the maximum Pell Grant to $8,000. The bill passed the House 380-49 and was signed into law.
• He talked about the tough time his father had as a bar owner. Yet, Boehner voted against the Small Business Lending Improvement Act of 2007, which was passed by the House 380-45. The bill authorized loans up to $250,000 to small businesses owned by women, veterans, and others considered socially or economically disadvantaged.
• The Ohio congressman talks about the difficulty of a family with 12 children growing up in a 2-bedroom house with only one bathroom. But that didn’t prevent him from opposing funding for the Hope VI housing program.
• Boehner even had the nerve to praise Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. yet vote against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which allows the federal government to assist local officials in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. The bill passed the House 249-175.
• He also voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which was signed into law by President Obama. The measure clarified provisions that allow employees to challenge pay discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, religion, age or disability.
• Boehner speaks often about the need to create more jobs, but voted against H.R. 2847, a bill that appropriated $154.4 billion for infrastructure projects, jobs programs, and aid to local and state governments so that they can continue providing basic services. The bill passed the House 217-210.
If anyone should be crying, it should be the people Boehner has abandoned.
Even conservatives are fed up with Boehner’s lonely teardrops. RedState.com, a conservative blog, stated: “Someone needs to tell John Boehner to grow the heck up and stop crying in front of every camera thrust in front of him…” It continued, “Boehner is now coming across as a blubbering, tongue-tied basket case whenever he has to think about something difficult or emotionally challenging. If he keeps crying every time someone asks him a tough question, it might be wise for the Republican caucus to relieve him of his duties and get him some help…”
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
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