Politicians use personal narrative to get us to like them. The spinners, take a small part of their life and spin a story, a personal narrative. This story is repeated and becomes the candidate. In fact, sometimes we don’t have political positions competing, but rather personal narratives. The stories are usually filled with bits from our list of confessional melodramas, hardships, pain, drama and tragedy.
This is some of the spewed personal narrative of the last few years:
- The McCain prisoner of war story droned on and on. Yes you were a prisoner, you crashed every plain you ever flew, why should you be president? I still don’t get why a prisoner of war would make a good President, or even a Senator.
- Huckabee’s weight loss story. Hmm, it looks like he is gaining the weight back, better look for another spin, or get that boy on a diet.
- The Edwards story, yes, your father was a mill worker, you were not, John. Matter of fact, you overused your Dad’s narrative and made a mess of your campaign and life.
- Obama and the single mother on food stamps narrative. I am sure he does not even remember and grandparents sent him to a prep school in Hawaii. This was not the regular single mother narrative of the time, OK. Let’s not use the trigger words, ” single mother”.
- Bush, always late to the game, piped in with the “fetus in a jar” story– sorry that was the most disgusting political stunt for humanizing a war criminal in the history of American politics. Really, Babs and George, you had to share that with us? What horrible people you are. Ever hear of the “repress” idea? Of course you have, you are old line WASPS. Go back to repressing, please. Repress that crap and keep it in the family. I still don’t like your family. That story did not make you “normal”. Normal people don’t do this crap, mothers do not make their teenage sons take the jar of the fetus to the doctor. So,
The new Speaker of the House, John Boehner is now the Horatio Alger American Dream poster boy. Boehner, the number two son, from a German Irish Catholic family of eleven in Ohio, is a mess of a man. His father owned a working class tavern in Ohio. Raised a Kennedy Democrat, made some money and soured on the Democratic Party– because the Republicans promised him less taxes. Boehner, exemplifies the worst of the American dream: I got mine and I did it all myself, now let me shut those doors.
Boehner cries when he thinks of the American Dream. He not only cries, he sobs. Why does the American dream make him cry? He told Leslie Stahl of CBS’s 60 minutes, that he cannot even go into a school because it makes him fall to pieces thinking of the children and their opportunities to have the American Dream come true for them as they did for him. Is he crying because the potential is lost to these children? Is he crying because he sees potential in the children? Is he crying because he has the opportunity to help the children make it like him? Is he crying because he cannot believe his good luck that they let him into the club? Why the gushing? What emotions are stirred in him? What is he trying to tell us from the crying? Are we to feel sorry for him because he feels deeply?
It is more common to see a man cry in my family, so, it’s not the man woman thing that is the issue. All the men I loved cried and they were not weak. But when they cried I understood why they cried. A Boehner cry has an inherent contradiction, he cries about the downtrodden, yet all his actions and positions are against the downtrodden. Boehner, like many men of his ilk, has convinced himself that he is self made. It’s not Boehner’s crying that is disturbing–ok, I lie, it is disturbing– it’s why he cries, the complete disconnection between his beliefs, his life’s work and the crying.
Boehner benefited from the post World War II train to prosperity: a progressive tax structure; expanded public education at all levels; liberalizing of social and cultural policies. Yes, the fruits of the Social Democracy that raised so many an American of that era. Yet he took the Horatio Alger narrative, from the 1930’s, pre FDR and post War social and economic policies, and applied it to his life in the 1970’s. In the 1970’s, I worked to pay my way through school. But we also had 3% loans and grants for our low-cost public university education. We could work at minimum wage, pay our rent, eat food and make it out of school without debt equal to the debt of a mortgage.
Boehner was born in 1949, how did he get off being drafted? He graduated from high school in 1968, finished college in 1977. Wow, John, that’s an awful long draft deferment. We were the generation that benefited from all the social and economic changes from FDR to the Great Society. This was not the Horatio Alger generation flying without a safety net.
Mary, my children’s paternal great-grandmother, was a Depression era woman, she used to say: “just another 10,000 dollar Republican ” . The worst kind of Republican, according to Mary, and I agree. Once they made their first $10,000–which was a lot of money back in the day– they forgot their roots and became Republicans. Sort of what happened with all the Kennedy Democrats who became Reagan Republicans, they got theirs, time to close the doors to the others. They conflated the social and economic changes that opened up America to the Catholics, working class, immigrants, Irish and other marginalized classes as a personal achievement. So, whenever John boo- hoos with memories of suffering and success, I wonder what is he crying about? Is he doing anything for those children to have the same chance to work and go to college? Or is a life of burdensome college debt the only path? Shutting out young people from higher education is this what is making him cry?
Why does the American Dream, make Boehner gush with tears? Needles to say, I find the sobbing a scoundrel’s attempt at distraction. By crying, Boehner diverts us into focusing our empathy to him, and not to his victims. He, the crying sobbing heap of a man, becomes the one we should be worried about. He says he cannot control it. Frankly, I think he probably is right, it is some deep psychological tool of a cad. A cad who believes his own mythology. John, we all struggled. We all had many opportunities in the sixties, seventies and eighties. How about not shutting the door to the next generations with public policies that protect those who have, and abandon those who do not.
Boehner continues in the tradition of the personal narrative. With him, they had to create a story around an affliction. An affliction of crying for no clear reason. They added a story, a reason for the crying. That story does not make sense. Face it Boehner, you have a problem. This crying thing needs to be checked, or you could do something about it, stop with the trickle down bankrupt economic policy and the Reagan agenda. You can stop crying, do what is right. Remember, you did not get drafted, you did not get busted for passing out lobbyist checks on the House floor, your friend Delay just got convicted. Maybe you cry cause you got away with so much and you know those kids will not have half your luck.