Democrats Must Be Patient With Boehner’s Fiscal Cliff Theatrics


USNews & World Report–Thomas Jefferson Street Blog

December 7, 2012 RSS Feed Print

This Nov. 29, 2012 file photo shows House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

It has always seemed to me that there are three professions that are hauntingly alike: actors, preachers and politicians.

They all demand a healthy ego, a flare for the dramatic and a great deal of showmanship. They all involve appearing before large audiences, the ability to project voice and visual, and they all attempt to move people.

So when I see Speaker Boehner throw up his hands and emote over the fiscal cliff I can’t help but think of someone who is a pretty good actor, with a touch of the preacher in him. Not that we don’t see that with our commander in chief on the Democratic side, but in this back and forth on the fiscal cliff, Speaker Boehner seems particularly adept at combining those three professions.

Watching his performance on Fox this weekend and in his press conferences this week we got a pretty good taste: “there is nothing going on”; “Democrats have yet to get serious”; “no progress”; “we’re waiting.”

For those who quake in their boots over such statements my advice is to, as the Brits said during World War II, KEEP CALM. My guess is that the Speaker has a plan to deal with his hard-to-manage caucus while simultaneously pursuing negotiations with the White House. I think his rhetoric is theatrical with a clear purpose.

I would hold that the speaker is crazy like a fox (no not Fox) and he knows just what he is doing. My advice to Democrats: don’t panic and don’t read too much into the doom and gloom—he is a smart and experienced legislator. This may seem like a hot poker in the eye to some on our side but the best response is to go about our business, negotiate in good faith and work towards a deal. Don’t fold but don’t shake in fear either.

All in all, a good combination of politician, preacher and actor—that’s the speaker.