Is John Boehner the Real Deal?

Boehner recalled his hard upbringing when he addressed supporters on election night when the Republicans took back the House. Choking up, he told them, "I spent my whole life chasing the American dream. I started out mopping floors, waiting tables, and tending bar at my dad's tavern. I put myself through school working every rotten job there was and night shift I can find. And I poured my heart and soul into running a small business."

Given his background, Boehner's humility seemed deep and heartfelt. “The American people have humbled us.  They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is,” he told the House on Wednesday.

His expression of humility and his stated commitment to reform House rules for more openness should not be underestimated, although some will probably consider them to be window dressing. It’s possible that his tone might stick and serve as a potential antidote to the arrogant, closed-door style of governing that reflected the Pelosi legacy.

Pelosi had many well-known incidents of arrogance throughout her tenure. Her public approval rating reached near-death levels, last year suffering a rating of only 11%. Interestingly, on Wednesday 21 Democrats voted “present” or for someone other than Pelosi when the roll call came up, showing their disapproval for the former speaker. Checking the record books, Fox News discovered that “it marked the worst showing for a party's nominee in more than 80 years.”

Her resignation speech also felt unseemly. Before handing over the gavel to Boehner, she spelled out her many accomplishments. She spoke longer in her resignation speech than Boehner did in his acceptance remarks. It was classic Pelosi. Throughout her tenure she has appeared insecure. On Wednesday, she still felt she had to defend her record, ranging from helping prostate cancer victims to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In the past, most transfers of the speakership have been short, sweet, and to the point.

Boehner also knows his victory may be very fleeting. In two years’ time the gavel could be handed back to Pelosi. He acknowledged that his position is temporary, almost tenuous, at one time invoking Biblical scriptures about how after death we return to dust. Upon accepting the gavel, he declared the people “have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. “

Austerity and job creation measures were echoed by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the new majority leader. In referring to meetings with incoming freshmen congressmen, many of whom are Tea Party supporters, Cantor told reporters this week he had a three-part rule: “Every day make sure we ask: are our actions focused on job creation and the economy? Two, are our actions focused on spending? And three, are our actions focused on shrinking government while protecting and expanding liberty?” He said the marching orders were clear: “If we’re not focused on those things, the question to ask is: ‘why are we doing it?’”