Book Review — “On The House” by John Boehner

You may remember John Boehner as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2015. His political resume also includes being the Representative for Ohio’s 8th congressional district from 1991 to 2015, the House Minority Leader from 2007 until 2011, and House Majority Leader from 2006 until 2007. During his time in government service, Boehner was more the pragmatist, prioritizing governing (although in the Republican way) over the posturing that is so much in evidence today.

His new book, copyright this year, is aptly subtitled “A Washington Memoir.” It is not an autobiography, but more of a collection of stories and musings about contemporary politics. As such, it’s not a complete or chronological account of Boehner’s years in Washington. It makes one wonder what could’ve been included.

One of the most interesting parts is the account of his early life. He was born in Reading, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. To say his upbringing was modest would be an understatement. He was one of 12 children in a two-bedroom house. His father ran a bar called Andy’s Cafe, and these circumstances made a lasting impression on him — “Dress like you are grateful you have something of your own” (page 39).

He attended the private Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, playing football under the legendary coach Gerry Faust. Faust’s impact on him was so profound, he devotes an entire chapter to him and the other Jerry who influenced him, this time in a more political way: President Gerald Ford.

Two other aspects of the book caught my eye —

  • Boehner’s practical bend still doesn’t moderate his partisanship, including his views of the media. He does complement Senator Bernie Sanders — “The thing about Bernie…is that he is probably the most honest person to ever run for president…” (page 197). But even this comes straight from the left hand; the context is Senator Sander’s honesty about his socialist agenda.
  • Boehner’s language is surprisingly crude. I’m not sure where this comes from, but this book could easily be confused with a sailor’s memoir.

What does he think of the current political climate in Washington? Here are some hints: Chapter Six is entitled “Mayor of Crazytown” (page 185 — “It’s not about principle, it’s about chaos.”). It gets worse — Chapter Seven is “Deep State Delusions” (page 190 — “There is something very destructive — not to mention delusional — about the notion that there is some plot deep within the nation’s capital…to undermine democratically elected officials….”). And you don’t want to know what he thinks about Senator Ted Cruz!

So if you like political stories and don’t mind the salty language, this book is worth your time.

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