Cool Hand John


House Speaker John Boehner has succeeded in making the largest cut to the bloated federal budget in American history. In this he surpasses even the great Ronald Reagan, who still deserves all honor and praise for defeating the Evil Empire and ushering in tax reform and economic dynamism in political economy. The Speaker has initiated what one can only hope is a rescue mission of equivalent importance to the future of the Republic.

Speaker Boehner has managed to mix the best of an insider’s understanding of the ways of Washington with the idealism of his younger or newer caucus members who are the engine of this drive for fiscal reform. The Speaker is the steady hand on the tiller, the unflappable negotiator, and the captain of his party. He maintains a cool head and hand while displaying a deep emotional empathy with this moment in his life, career, and role at this juncture in history.

Boehner has managed to cut $38 billion from current budget levels — roughly $78.5 below President Obama’s initial funding request for 2011. This is a stunning accomplishment when one reflects on the trajectory of incontinent spending, debt, and, most recently, taxes that the Bush and Obama administrations have visited on the American taxpayer and, even more irresponsibly, on future generations of young families and workers.

Social conservatives will appreciate his dogged efforts to defund the nation’s largest abortion abattoir and his successful cutting off of similar funding for the District of Columbia. He also restored the voucher program for school children in the federal city that President Obama and the previous Democratic Congress had sacrificed on the altar of the teachers’ unions.

The second oldest of 12 children, the son of a saloon keeper from Cincinnati, Jesuit-educated and a small businessman, Speaker Boehner is a classic Midwesterner in style, temperament and instinct. Again, in this way he is similar to Reagan, a native of Illinois. Unlike many of those carping at his fiscal conservatism, he mopped floors and helped out at the family tavern to get through school.

Yet, there still be dragons out there. Awaiting the Speaker’s attention is the debate on raising the debt ceiling and, even more portentous, the consequential battle over GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget, the polar opposite of what the President has proposed.

On this latter matter, Boehner deserves special credit for not crowding, inhibiting, or otherwise holding back Chairman Ryan in pushing his major budget, tax, and entitlement reforms which would make Republicans of another era skittish. By delegating this titanic effort to one of the GOP’s brightest lights, and supporting him to the maximum extent possible, Boehner is preparing the ground for the most significant public policy debate since World War II.

These are difficult, seemingly intractable issues on the horizon. But given the performance of John Boehner since becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, it is hard to imagine a better, more seasoned, prudent and perspicacious man or woman leading the party of reform and renewal. He has demonstrated these traits since the beginning of his tenure.

With the rise of the Tea Party and John Boehner, the Republicans are beneficiaries of a rare convergence of idealistic energy and mature experience and deft political craftsmanship.


About Author

G. Tracy Mehan, III, is a former Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. EPA, in the Bush administration. He is a consultant in Arlington, Virginia, and an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law.

  • If “Cool Hand John” is a hero, then so is “Tricky Dick,” and a host of politicians adept at the shell game that has replaced statesmanship in Congress. John Boehner and his Republican majority in the House will fight to the death about financial issues, but they will throw the Christians under the bus whenever it appears to be politically expedient to compromise on core social issues.
    Professor Mehan mentions Ronald Reagan, whose great contribution domestically was not, as he claims, “ushering in tax reform and economic dynamism;” but more so in bolstering our morale as Americans, and making us feel good about the country again. Now polarization and cynicism are so prevalent that Christian conservatives are speculating that Boehner was never serious intending to defund Planned Parenthood. Rather he played the issue all along as a bargaining chip to extract budget concessions from the Democrats.

    A man is no hero who plays politics with the lives of innocent babies. King Herod was no hero when he dispatched the Holy Innocents for reasons of state. Neither is Speaker Boehner a hero.

  • goral

    Our new Speaker appears to be a pink tie Republican.
    Maybe that’s why the House Republicans picked him.
    My feeling is that he’s no match for the Chicago gangsta’.

    • “Pink tie Republican.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it might explain the “guy-liner” (man-scara) that he appears to be wearing.

      In Christ,

  • goral

    I’m not exactly sure what it means either but certainly your pastels are not your power ties.

    As we’ve witnessed in the Japan tragedy, water can sometimes be stronger and more damaging than falling rock.

    Let’s give him another opportunity to prove that, if not, then we should look for another.