Ronald Reagan used to say that you should always fight up, never fight down. It’s a rule we try to follow, but President Obama seems to have forgotten it. In recent weeks he has launched one attack after another against John Boehner. I haven’t seen Boehner’s name recognition statistics lately, but it’s a good bet that half of Obama’s audience doesn’t know whom he is is talking about.
Somewhat weirdly, Obama and the Democrats are trying to paint Boehner as a plutocrat. The Telegraph has a nice profile that dispels that image:
In a recent speech, Mr Obama mentioned Mr Boehner by name nine times. A fundraising email sent out from BarackObama.com this week stated that corporate interests and lobbyists “have put all their chips on one man: Congressman John Boehner”.
Democrats have started a BeatBoehner.com website that claims he spent $1 million on “luxury hotels, exclusive golf resorts and gourmet dining for himself and his fat-cat contributors”. On the I-75 freeway outside Cincinnati, a huge poster showing a tanned Mr Boehner playing golf accuses him of teeing off 119 times in a year.
Yet Mr Boehner’s life story is the type of classic up-by-the-bootstraps tale of the American Dream that can put a tear in a voter’s eye. As his story becomes better known, the Democrats could even be drawing favourable attention upon him. …
His sister Lynda Meineke, who is 51, is a waitress and bar tender at Andy’s Cafe in Carthage, Ohio, a family business that was founded by their grandfather Andy Boehner in 1938. As a child, one of Mr Boehner’s jobs was to mop the floor.
Sitting outside the bar this week, sipping a bottle of Bud Light and smoking a cigarette, Mrs Meineke described her childhood as “cramped” but happy. “We learned how to share. If there was a toy, it wasn’t just for you but for all the younger ones.”
Mr Boehner, 61, is the second of 12 who grew up in a German-Irish family in Reading, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. All but two of them still live within a few miles of each other. Two are unemployed and most of the others have blue-collar jobs.
The future Congressman started work as a janitor and took seven years to get his degree – the first in the family to do so – because he had several jobs to pay his way. He joined a plastics and packaging company, rising to president before entering local politics by being elected to the town board.
It is a nice portrait of a man whose upbringing and youth were nowhere near as privileged as Barack Obama’s.