A few weeks ago I saw an interesting segment on newly minted House Speaker John Boehner on 60 Minutes. In the special Boehner talked about everything from how he was a faux person of color (he could be the first politicians to make an appearance on Jersey Shore), to his humble upbringing, to the authenticity of his tears. Yes, that is right; again we are discussing how real a politician’s tears are (Breaking news: elected officials aren’t robots). I’m sure Boehner was somewhere in the audience taking notes two years ago when Hillary Clinton cried in New Hampshire. He realized that if tears could win a swing state in a highly contested Democratic primary, it could probably lead to even greater successes if employed more often. Although I have no problem with emotion, his tears for the proletariat seemed dubious due to his voting record.
While I have no problem with Politicians weeping for the people, I loath hypocrisy. Tomorrow Boehner will be sworn in as the Speaker of the House for the 112th session of Congress and I’m very unsettled. The person leading the agenda for our 435 legislators is man whose tears are shadier than a used car salesman’s talking points. In the words of rapper and producer Pharrell Williams ,“We needed to align ourselves and make ourselves parallel and congruent with what society is feeling. “There’s a lot going on and a lot of things people don’t necessarily understand. We have a Tea Party. We have conservative Democrats. We have liberals that are like neo-liberals and nothing like you thought they’d be. There are so many different hybrid sects of people and issues.” One of those “hybrid sects” of people is Boehner.
• 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.
It is up to all of us to hold our elected officials accountable and not get swept up in the sea of tears.
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