New House Speaker John Boehner is a character

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 5 2011 5:21 p.m. MST

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio holds up the gavel after receiving it from outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California during the first session of the 112th Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

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On Wednesday, the job of Speaker of the House passed from Nancy Pelosi to John Boehner. He's the 61st person to ever hold the position.

Starting with the obvious, who is Boehner? This profile at the Washington Post's whorunsgov.com site gives some background:

"As a top lieutenant of ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Boehner helped write the 'Contract with America' that nationalized the 1994 elections and catapulted the GOP into the congressional majority for the first time in 40 years. He became chair of the House GOP Conference, only to lose the job in 1999 after GOP losses in the post-Clinton impeachment elections of 1998. … From the minority, Boehner rebuilt the tattered Republican brand on Capitol Hill. He may have succeeded much faster than expected."

What's Bohner's agenda? The New York Times had this to say soon after he assumed control of the big gavel:

"The new speaker of the House, John Boehner, promised a new era of transparency in lawmaking on Wednesday, but he also pledged to aggressively push forward the conservative agenda that swept his party into power. … In remarks after taking the gavel from Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Boehner described himself as humbled, and said that the changes he envisions would restore trust to 'the people's House.' "

Finally, some anecdotal color is provided in a recent Associated Press article that begins by detailing an interaction Boehner had with Utah's Rep. Rob Bishop:

"'I told Mr. Bishop on the way in that just because he inherited this suit from his grandfather didn't mean he had to wear it,' House Republican leader John Boehner teased his friend Thursday. 'But his hair looks good.' … Boehner, one of a dozen children of their bar-owning father, is given to smoking, being tan, golfing and teasing people he likes most. He's also a weeper at key public moments and liked for his geniality by many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle."

e-mail: jaskar@desnews.com

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