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Boehner's 'cry' for common ground

What people will be talking about most from John Boehner's 60 Minutes interview Sunday night--besides all the crying, of course--is his comment about compromise. Boehner (R-Ohio), the incoming Speaker of the House, told a baffled Lesley Stahl that he "rejects the word" compromise. "When you say the word 'compromise,' a lot of Americans look up and go 'oh, oh they're going to sell me out.' Finding common ground I think makes more sense."

At first blush, Boehner's comment may sound like little more than semantics--or worse, political double speak made in an effort to have it both ways. Such a statement comes off like he's trying to sound both tough and unyielding to the Tea Party members he now leads, while simultaneously flexible to independent voters who want to see politicians work together.

But in fact, there is some truth to Boehner's point. He is actually quite right that the two are different: Compromise implies that leaders have to give something up, while finding common ground means seeking areas where two sides already agree and then working on those issues. Where he's wrong is believing that there will be enough of it to get Washington functional again.

The notion of a "sell out" will ring true to both the right and the left. Whether they're liberals angry about Obama's caving on tax cuts for the wealthy or Tea Partiers upset about the unemployment insurance extension, both sides believe their own leaders made big sacrifices. That's an inherent part of compromise, after all--giving up something of value in favor of something worth even more.

The problem with focusing on "common ground" is that there isn't enough of it to go around. While it worked for Bill Clinton--the former president's "triangulation" strategy meant he ended up working with Republicans after his own party was trounced in the midterms--many of those areas of common ground were criticized as small bore. Washington has only gotten more partisan since then, and topics where the right and left are on the same page, or at least on the same planet, are growing fewer and farther between.

Whatever distinctions Boehner may draw, he did compromise in the tax cut bill by not getting everything he wanted. And most will see little evidence of common ground in the deal as it sits now, other than that everyone hopes it will help to stimulate the economy, especially if it's going to add to the deficit.

Boehner may be right that people don't like to give anything up when negotiating a solution--that's why we look to leaders, after all, to hold firm on our most important principles and values, even if it means giving up something of lesser significance. To reject outright the notion of compromise may make the incoming speaker sound like a tough fighter. But if he's left with little common ground, he won't be successful as a leader, either.

By Jena McGregor

 |  December 13, 2010; 12:24 PM ET |  Category:  Change management , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Federal government leadership , Government leadership , Presidential leadership , Public leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Boehner is using the Newtster's Dictionary of the Republican English Language.

Compromise in that book means letting the democrats have anything they propose, even if it is absolutely essential to the continuance of the Republic or the existence of a functioning economy.

Common ground means that the democrats roll over and play dead while the republicans get whatever toy they want.

Retaining totally unwarranted tax breaks that solely benefit the rich is common ground. Accepting only those tax reductions that affect the first$250,000 dollars of a man's income is compromise. Not possible because it would let Obama keep a political promise.

Boehner is being quite consistant in his politics. He was one of the Contractors who promised to term limit themselves, and he has certainlt termlimited himself, as he most certainly won't serve much beyond 2060 or so. His whole career is based on the fact that voters in Western Ogio apparently can't count, as in terms beyond the six he once said was enough, (for democrats, too much), Don't notice the constant rebuilding of I 75 in his district, now somewhere in the neighborhood of wide enough to land 747's on going in opposite directions, or the equally constant rebuilding of I 70, soon to be walled and roofed the length of Messer la Orange's district.

They don't notice the ridges and valleys across most main roads in Middletown from the overweight steel hauling trucks locking up their breaks and pushing the tarmac around, which will cost a fortune in taxes Middletown won't pass to repair.

So the fact that a network interviewer might not comprehend the terms John uses isn't unusual. You have to speak TRUE AMURIKAN with a Zinzinnati brogue to get his real message:

It's a crying shame that Democrats are even allowed to vote.

Posted by: ceflynline | December 14, 2010 6:37 PM

Oprah cried in her interview and now Boehner...um, Ya. A littel too much time under the sunlamp I would say - maybe a touch of heat stroke.

Posted by: sux123 | December 14, 2010 5:19 PM

The theatrics from Boehner and Beck are deserving of Academy Awards but it's all just theatrics not unlike what the GOP has given us for years.

Did Boehner cry at the onset of the Iraq war, did he cry when Bush gave all those tax cuts making it certain that future generations would pay, has he cried that not extending unemployment might put some people in the streets? He only cries when it serves his purposes.

It's like the rest of the GOP they scream about Social Security running up the deficit but when it comes to keeping tax cuts for the wealthy or paying for a war that never should have happened then they don't care about the deficit.

They turn on the tears and hurt like a faucet to get their way, plain and simple.
I've never believed that there might even be one of the GOP or Tea Party rank and file that really care about the US! They care about keeping the rich, rich and making us poorer.

Tears=hypocrisy. GOP=Hypocrisy

Posted by: davidbronx | December 14, 2010 5:02 PM

Boehner is a drunk that cries.

Ever tried to reason with a drunk whether he's crying or not?

Drunks don't compromise either. It's either their way or the highway, dry eyed or sloppy wet eyes.

And I want to mention that drunks can be VERY, VERY *MEAN*, even when they are sober.

Boehner is a throw back.


Posted by: Evenfoolsarerightsometimes | December 14, 2010 4:19 PM

Republicans poring over a 1,924-page overarching spending bill proposed by Democrats to cover the rest of the fiscal year are threatening to grind the legislation to a halt, citing hidden earmarks and massive spending that would be enacted into law without a review process.

Posted by: corebanks1940 | December 14, 2010 3:53 PM

Why should Boner compromise? He'll just cry until he gets his way.
What's interesting is how he deals with dilemmas of his own creation, such as how to balance the budget and cut taxes at the same time. Republicans have traditionally cut taxes while the budget deficit went through the roof. His strategy is to not even mention it, knowing that his idiot followers won't even ask how something so ridiculous could even be considered. We truly are the United Stupids of America.

Posted by: DaveHarris | December 14, 2010 3:25 PM

He's such a clown!! I wonder how come there have been no calls from the right telling him to MAN UP?

Posted by: Angryman | December 14, 2010 3:12 PM

it's called acting, and today, everywhere's a stage where cameras take videos.

I thought all you online folks knew this.

He's crying like a woman who cries because that's the new coersion - when women cry they usually get what's coming to them.

Now this Mangina starts to cry - WTF Republicans - who are you trying to fool? the NOW?

Good job, boner.

Maybe your close up will occur next opportunity that puts you in front of a camera.

And we'll get all weepy about poor, poor, rich constituents.

What a nutcase.

Posted by: pgibson1 | December 14, 2010 3:01 PM

I must confess that I am uneasy with Boehner's crying. It just doesn't seem to be a sign of a very stable person. Nothing has really happened yet to have him in tears. I think there will be more, a lot more, to come about this. I felt so sorry for his wife. Actually, I felt sorry for a lot of people: Boehner's wife, Boehner, the public and, I must confess, myself. It was just an off-putting and uneasy moment. Did the Republicans who elected him know about this little personality quirk? We'll see...

Posted by: m_richert | December 14, 2010 2:49 PM

@ labman57... thats a real hoot and a half...

Posted by: demtse | December 14, 2010 2:13 PM

There will be a lot of crying within the GOP when they realize that the Boner guy has led them to electral disaster. I predict the Repugs will overplay their greasy hand and be out of power in a jiffy, like the Newt gang did before!

Posted by: fgominho | December 14, 2010 2:13 PM

I'm waiting for the day when someone -- from the left-wing, lame stream media, no doubt -- unearths "Glenn Beck's How-To: A Primer for Crying on Cue and Other Tricks to Make Stupid People Believe You're Sincere and Not Just In It for the Cash." How obvious can it be that Boner and others of his ilk are taking a page directly from the Clown Prince of the Far Right? Cry on demand and let the conservitards lap it up.

Posted by: Runeer1987 | December 14, 2010 2:10 PM

Once again, Mr. Boehner has revealed an unstable personality. Fox "News" would repeatedly castigate and ridicule any woman politician who even teared up, let alone behaved as he does.

He cries about poor kids like he was but votes against anything and everything that benefits poor children and families. Instead, he's a ring leader for voting to benefit the wealthy. You can't get any more hypocritical than that.

Posted by: BettyW1 | December 14, 2010 2:06 PM

Boehner is cry baby and a mental wreck.

He's the nuttiest whacko in the bunch, and his home State of Ohio is in the worse mess it's been in over 50 years.

I understand that Boehner has gotten a lot of pork barrel money, but he sure ain't spending it in Ohio.

Posted by: lindalovejones | December 14, 2010 1:09 PM

John Boehner has a mental health and
alcohol problem.

Why is this loose bolt set to become
Speaker of the US House of Representatives?
Third in line to become President of the
United States?

We are on shaky ground America - this
nut job should not be in any position of

Requirement: Boehner needs to have a
mental health exam in order to qualify
for any position, including elected
representative for his district in Ohio.

Also, confirmation that he is addicted
to alchol - and tanning rooms!

Posted by: Sirius2 | December 14, 2010 11:58 AM

Mr. Boehner may think he is fooling me. But I base my opinion on what I have observed of the GOP, and not over the last disastrous 12 years but merely in the last two. The party's leader cannot now talk of finding what he calls 'common ground' when all it's been during these two years is 'no,' absolute, unequivocal 'no.' No talks, no compromise, no common ground, no nothing -- except keeping tax cuts for the rich, and too bad if I can't find a job. America, are we so stupid and self-satisfied and selfish that we think this is a good idea?

Posted by: sbuck | December 14, 2010 11:15 AM

The Whole Gongress will be crying when America Demands an Mandates them to be all fired including the President. They are suppose to work for us. But they are steadfast working for themselfs. Fired all of you!

Posted by: JWTX | December 14, 2010 10:17 AM

Is repeal of helthcare common ground?

Posted by: clarenceshaynes1 | December 14, 2010 9:44 AM

LOL! Such a farce.... This guy is incredible, and should go back to the mirror and practice tearing some more. It seems that the PR folks are telling celebrities and politicians to show their "sensitive" side to the public hoping for pity.... You bastards will get nothing from me!
re: billnbillieskid post, "WHY doesn't Congress have to depend on Social Security like the rest of us"?
answer: Because we are dumb enough to elect these weasels.
Says of France what you may (I am not French), but there is a case study of where the government is afraid of it's people, and not the other way around.

Posted by: nonag | December 14, 2010 7:53 AM

A cry for bipartisanship from "Mr. NO" himself. How hypocritical can anyone get?

Posted by: miesque | December 14, 2010 6:27 AM

We got a long way to climb out the hole America is in. Common ground is a good start. Builds trust, and over time builds strength of relationship. You gotta start somewhere. He knows what he is talking about. Smart man. lol.

I am just glad I am my own boss and no one negotiates anything for me, what don't do in-person I don't do at all. lol.

My predecessors and I have fixed the American economy before, I can do it again after I have had an in-person chat with John Boehner when he is Speaker and has clearance and after we have come to a suitable arrangement. lol.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | December 14, 2010 5:44 AM

I read somewhere the words:
Politics IS the Art of Compromise.
(Emphasis by this writer). Compromise may be an odious word to folks with an "agenda" but it really is a fine word to describe a great and useful Art.
And I wonder if perhaps the Speaker might find himself posessed of a little more "grit" if he would read a couple of the Horatio Alger novels.

Posted by: conepatus | December 14, 2010 4:42 AM

John Boehner is a Traitor to himself, the American People and the American way of life. He has forgotten his past and believes, because HE "pulled himself up by his bootstraps", EVERYBODY should. He is a PERFECT example of, "I'm up, Pull up the rope!". His "Crocodile Tears" are from the guilt he feels over urinating on the American People and their needs for the length of his time in Washington. He, like Ronald Reagan before him, jumped ship from the Democratic Party that had once sustained him, to the Republicans who don't want to share, Compromise, Cooperate or confer with ANYONE that has an opposing viewpoint or method for achieving the goals we ALL want, Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness and the ability to enjoy the fruits of our labor without being continually raped by our Government. In Boehner's world, only the Rich are given Tax breaks, after all, there are so few of them in comparison to the rest of us. Why should THEY be financially over-burdened unnecessarily? He is blind to the suffering of the working poor and unemployed. If he thinks they're lazy loafers, he needs to rethink that equation. There is NO Work thanks to him and his Republi-WON'T cronies who have sent all our industry overseas to avoid liveable salaries and Union regulations. We are a nation of Hamburger flippers and Taco fryers. All of our decent jobs have been sent to China, the Philippines, India and Mexico. It is easy for him to deny health benefits and Social Security to John Q. Public when HE gets HIS salary for LIFE, with decent HealthCare and retirement perqs forever! WHY doesn't Congress have to depend on Social Security like the rest of us? WHY do they get their salary FOR LIFE, while the rest of us go begging? WHERE is Justice??? Can anybody tell me?

Posted by: billnbillieskid | December 14, 2010 2:43 AM

I reject the words "puke", "barf", "vomit", and "hurl", so pardon me while I go orally expel partially digested food from my stomach.

Posted by: labman57 | December 13, 2010 9:46 PM

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