The term fourth estate, used to identify the press, was coined in 1787 by Edmund Burke. During a debate in England’s House of Commons that would allow the press to report on its debates, Burke noted there were three estates in Parliament, but referring to a journalist sitting in the gallery he said, “In the reporter’s gallery yonder there sat a fourth estate more important far than we are.” Prior to that, the term applied to lawyers, the mob and the queen of England.
This year, the Republican-controlled 112th Congress could surprise us all by compromising with Democrats and actually getting something done. John Boehner should be the next speaker of the house. The Democrats elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi as the leader of their minority party, giving both Sen. Harry Reid and Pelosi some political clout supporting President Obama’s agenda.
Boehner, who would be next in line for the presidency if anything happens to the president or vice president, might be the best thing that has happened in bipartisan politics since the years of President Bill Clinton. He is the second born in a family with 12 children living in a two-bedroom house sharing one bathroom. After negotiating a compromise to get some shower time with 14 members of the family, dealing with the Democrats in Congress and the president should be a piece of cake.
He knows the meaning of hard work, commitment and dedication. At the age of 8 years old he began working in his family’s bar sweeping floors, cleaning glasses and washing dishes. He worked his way through college for eight years to earn a bachelor’s degree in business. He was first elected to Congress in 1990 and has been reelected 10 times since.
Boehner’s power in Congress might provide a conduit for both he and Newt Gingrich to run for president. Gingrich has hinted this might be the time for his style of ultra-conservatism. Boehner and Gingrich were the main framers for the 1994 Contract with America campaign that contributed to the demise of almost 40 years of the Democrats’ majority in Congress.
Saying it was his “proudest achievement” in eight years of public service, Boehner was instrumental in the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. In hindsight, the legislation lowered the standards of education to accommodate the slowest learners. It instructed children on how to receive high test scores but it didn’t actually teach the exceptional students anything; although, on paper it did make some school districts, teachers and school administrators look good and, of course, they all wanted pay increases because of it. It raised the standard of political interference in the field of education, which politicians seem to know nothing about.
But in 1995, Boehner had an epiphany. While tobacco subsidies were being debated in Congress, Boehner was passing out campaign contributions provided by tobacco lobbyists to congressmen while on the house floor. Even though it wasn’t illegal, he apologized and said he would never do that again. Adding credence to his apology he helped pass legislation prohibiting campaign contributions from being handed out on the floor of the House.
Boehner was opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in December. He vowed to stop it by denying funding for the program. The bill prohibits denying anyone health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. It subsidizes insurance premiums, provides funds for medical research, increases Medicaid eligibility for poor children and allows a tax incentive for businesses that provide health insurance to their workers. The Congressional Budget Department says the law could reduce our federal deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years.
In an interview on “60 minutes,” Boehner shed reflective emotional tears of pride, nostalgia and his personal accomplishment of being nominated as House speaker. As speaker we should all hope he can compromise with the Democrats, negotiate with his own party members and avoid personal confrontation with the president.
If Boehner doesn’t find that middle ground between the conservative will of a Republican Congress, the cry for social needs of the unemployed and health care for the working poor, his political career could be over.
If he doesn’t listen to the cry for help from the majority of the American people and compromise, he may never have shower time in the White House.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.