Election 2010

Boehner's A 'Country Club, Cocktail-Drinking, Cigarette-Smoking Republican'

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, on June 16, 2010, in the Capitol.

Boehner, at the Capitol, on June 16. Carolyn Kaster hide caption

toggle caption Carolyn Kaster

By invoking House Minority Leader John Boehner's name "no less than eight times" during a speech yesterday, Frank wrote, President Obama was "personalizing the opposition."

Later today on All Thing Considered, NPR's Don Gonyea will explain just who Boehner is for the many Americans who aren't that familiar with the Ohio Republican.

But even before the show goes on the air we have, thanks to Don, some good perspective about Boehner from Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker, a veteran observer of All Things Washington.

We'll add the audio from Don's nearly seven-minute phone conversation with Baker at the bottom of this post. First, a few highlights from what Baker had to say:

— "I can't imagine anybody who's more distant from the Tea Party ideal than John Boehner.

"For one thing, Boehner has shown himself on many occasions, on pretty important legislation, to be more than willing to work with Democrats. He’s known to have a really good relationship with Steny Hoyer, the majority leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. He worked with George Miller, chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, on No Child Left Behind. And then the two of them worked with Ted Kennedy on No Child Left Behind in the Senate. So this is somebody who is not, despite a lot of his rhetoric, an excessively harsh partisan and somebody who is very much at the heart of the establishment in Congress."

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Boehner isn't really a Tea Party type

— "Boehner is an old-fashioned, small-government, country-club, cocktail-drinking, cigarette-smoking Republican. You know, there is nothing terribly radical about the guy except the fact that many of the things the president wants to do really go against the grain of his deeply seated Republican beliefs in small government. He’s very much a foe of earmarks, always has been. You know, he’s basically somebody who follows a kind of a corporate line. Much of what he does reflects the opinions and the preferences of the business community, both in Ohio and in the nation."

He's a classic Republican


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He's a classic Republican

— "Well of course his history indicates that he is very much a survivor. He really knows how to pull himself out of desperate situations and I think he probably feels he can kind of finesse these people." (The Tea Party.)

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Boehner will try to 'finesse' the Tea Party

And as for having the president identify Boehner as the leader of the opposition, Baker said that "having Barack Obama speak ill of you is not necessarily the worst qualification for a Republican. So I think in a sense, his stock has risen as a result of it."

Here's the longer version of Don's conversation with Baker. As we said, Don's report — with much more from others who have smart things to say about Boehner — will be on today's edition of ATC.

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NPR's Don Gonyea speaks with political scientist Ross Baker

Update at 4:15 p.m. ET: Don's put together his piece now, and here's just a bit more about Boehner.

As Don says, the House minority leader is famous for his perpetual (and some would say artificial-looking) tan:

President Obama broached the topic at a Washington gala dinner in 2009, singling Boehner out in the black-tie crowd. 'After all, we have a lot in common,' Obama joked. 'He is a person of color ... although not a color that appears in the natural world.'

"Boehner has heard the jokes. He generally laughs, while insisting the tan comes from hours spent on the golf course or mowing his lawn.

"If he becomes speaker, he'll be able to add increased time in the spotlight as another reason."

Update at 6:30 p.m. ET: After seeing this post, Boehner's office contacted Don to say that the minority leader has reached out to the Tea Party movement and to point out that he has spoken at some Tea Party gatherings — including to a crowd of more than 18,000 outside Cincinnati.



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