I kind of like John Boehner. Yesterday, the blogoshpere was abuzz over his interview on 60 Minutes because he cried. I though the buzz was silly and found the interview compelling. I also thought it was interesting because I think his brand of conservatism could work in Massachusetts:
… A young German-Irish Catholic boy, one of twelve siblings, grows up idolizing JFK, spends his youth working in his father’s bar and going to church every morning in a forlorn factory town… Any part of that sound familiar?
Boehner wins without sacrificing principle, but often he uses different tones and tactics than those often demanded by many conservatives, who often demonstrate a poor understanding of electoral politics in blue states.
I’ve always considered myself a conservative and a fighter, but there is a new guard of activists that are too short-sighted, insular, and petulant for me. They don’t like Boehner. He’s been in Congress for twenty years, so he is part of the dreaded “establishment”. He is also an affable guy who is known to, uh-oh, fraternize with Democrats and knock back a few pints – no doubt the source of his friendship with Kennedy, which is another bone of contention for the purists.
I don’t care about the petty stuff. I see a full spectrum conservative, who grew up a JFK Democrat in a factory town and knows how to influence people and policy. I see a lot of my father in that video. Boehner strikes me as a conservative who could do well in the blue collar Massachusetts.
For starters, not only was I not bothered by his crying, I found it refreshing. He is passionate about the American dream and his roots and believes conservative policies are needed to keep them alive. He’s not soft or unstable. He’s just an emotional guy. So many Massachusetts Republicans sound like Charlie Baker. They don’t seem to have deep rooted conservative convictions, but operate under the premise that Republicans deserve to win because Republicans are better administrators than Democrats.
Boehner also comes across like a “regular” guy. Coming from Fall River and New Bedford, I’m sensitive to blue collar appeal. Scott Brown sort of pulled the “regular” guy thing off, but Boehner is more authentic and seems to appeal to Democrats and Indies without compromising core principles.
I remember getting involved in state politics and going to my first convention in 1998. I recall thinking, “way to reinforce every single negative stereotype about the GOP… no wonder we get crushed back home”. But I think a guy like Boehner could campaign in a city like Fall River as a conservative and still charm the little old Polish ladies at church in the morning and then go win over all the football fans at the bar at noon. I’ll be rooting for him.
From a janitor on the night shift to Speaker of the House… “Welcome to America”.