Boehner could learn from LePage

Posted Jan. 07, 2011, at 8:03 p.m.

I wasn’t even of legal working age when my mother first suggested I start applying for summer jobs.

“You’ll be 16 by the time the Tastee Freeze opens for the season,” she reminded me.

And so, at the young and vulnerable age of just 15, (insert a sniff, a long pause and a big gulp here), I filled out my first job application (picture me with my eyes closed here as I hold back the tears).

Summer after summer I made ice cream cones. I swept the floor of the Tastee Freeze each night (picture me now with just a lone tear trickling down my pretty cheek). I mixed milkshakes and flipped burgers (insert long pause and wait while my proud husband standing behind me places a comforting hand on my shoulder).

(Watch now as I shift my stance, throw my shoulders back, lift my chin defiantly and summon the strength to go on. Because that’s the kind of person I am.)

And look at me today. I am living the American dream.

Here I am in my flannel jammies and L.L. Bean slippers, sipping coffee at my computer and taking cheap shots at our newest speaker of the House — and perhaps our new governor. I’m not finished yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against men who cry or the women who may have caused them to, but there is a time and place and, most importantly, a reason.

With that said, let me state on the record that I think John Boehner, known now in some circles as our new “Weeper of the House,” is a weenie.

“I can’t go to schools anymore,” he tearfully told “60 Minutes” correspondent Leslie Stahl. “I see all these little kids running around and … can’t talk about it … (snort, sob) making sure these kids have a shot at the American dream like I did is important (choke, sob.)”

Of course when the tears dry up he talks about what a “thick skin” he has.

Yes sirree, we can see that. You’re a toughie, all right.

Not that I was at all a fan of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but had she cried as much as Boehner we’d be suggesting that she’s a little old to be so hormonal.

Boehner seems most vulnerable when talking about himself. How he grew up mopping the floor of his father’s tavern and waiting on tables and bartending. Yet he was able to overcome that horrific mess and pull himself up to the powerful position he holds today.

Good grief.

Perhaps it’s time Mr. Boehner’s wife hand him a pair of big-boy underpants and suggest he get to work.

Say what you want about Gov. Paul LePage’s inauguration speech this week, but at least he didn’t cry.

He even refrained from reminding us all of his difficult childhood, running away from an abusive family, living on the streets, working his way through high school and college and becoming the manager of the successful chain of Marden’s stores.

Either LePage himself, or someone wise within his camp, knew we were all aware of his background and that reporters providing commentary on the inauguration would be reminding us of it throughout the day’s inaugural events.

LePage didn’t even threaten to shed a tear when he talked about the 46 service members from Maine who died during the past seven years. He acknowledged them in his speech and by way of 46 empty chairs in the front row of the civic center and by announcing that the mother of one of them would be the new receptionist in his office.

Nicely done.

At one point during the election, LePage did refer to his rough-and-tumble background as a possible excuse for less-than-tactful remarks he made toward the president and Maine Public Broadcasting Network reporter A. Jay Higgins.

LePage grew up on the streets, he told one reporter when trying to explain his boorish behavior, and remained a bit “rough around the edges.”

Then LePage did what any wise candidate would do. He hired a new press secretary.

The public gaffes subsided, he became a bit more self-deprecating, if not a bit charming and went on to handily win the election.

Perhaps there is something Boehner could learn here, on the opposite end of the spectrum, of course.

If they were ice cream flavors and I was still making ice cream cones, I might just stick ’em both in the same machine to produce a nicely balanced twist — perhaps with sprinkles.

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