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Meet the New Boss

With new predictions every hour or so that the Democrats will lose the House, media interest in John Boehner is suddenly surging.

Although the Man Who Would Be Speaker has been in town for two decades, few people know about his personal story. And it's in the GOP's interest to push this narrative as a way of humanizing Boehner, who comes off like a permanently bronzed, country club Republican, reflexively saying no to everything the administration
wants.

Newsweek's Howard Fineman has the tale:

"Growing up, his family owned a bar, Andy's Café, on the outskirts of Cincinnati. The second of 12 children, he mopped floors and bused tables. He traces hisdemeanor to watching his dad's blunt, but soothing, way of dealing with patrons...

"After playing at a renowned football school, Moeller, he joined the Navy and was honorably discharged with a bad back. Working part time, it took him seven years to graduate from college--he was a janitor in the building where he met a secretary who would become his wife. He built a plastic--packaging business, led a home-owners' association, won a seat in the Ohio Legislature during the Reagan landslide of 1984, and got elected to Congress in 1990."

But the Ohio congressman is also drawing more partisan attacks, such as this one from John Batchelor at the Daily Beast:

"It may be possible that Boehner, one of 12 children of a modest tavern keeper in Cincinnati, has worked so hard at being an anonymous footman since entering Congress in 1990 as part of Newt Gingrich's dynamiters that he's incapable of the cogency associated with historical memory. He might be nothing more than what we see: a maitre de pork, a Buckeye hack on the make, a fall guy who played Newt's bagman for tobacco companies on the floor of Congress once upon a time in 1995, who inherited the IED ruins of the GOP House from the fleeing Tom DeLay in January 2006, who took a palooka's dive for Hank Paulson's TARP folly in 2008, and who has clung to his 'Leader Boehner' with the bravery of a parasite these last years of leading the 'No' team as if it were destiny."

In short, those on the left may give Boehner the same treatment that the right has lavished on Nancy Pelosi.

By Howard Kurtz  |  September 8, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Latest stories  
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