The Boehner-Hoover-Tea Party Connection

john boehner cryingCorporate lobbyist Matt Lewis launched an assault on John Boehner, the incoming Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives. In two recent columns, Lewis went public with Boehner’s long history of drunkenness, explaining the gushers of tears which have replaced an orange complexion as Boehner’s signature feature.

Lewis first simply blew the cover off the man who is third in line for the Presidency, revealing the “inside baseball” about Boehner’s daily run for Capitol Hill bars and even his insistence on being served alcohol at President Obama’s recent “Slurpee Summit.” Then Lewis teamed up with Tea Party queen Sarah Palin to deride Boehner for getting a free ride with his crying – pointing out that a woman politician would be pilloried for crying.

Just think what the Republicans would say about Nancy Pelosi if she had ever teared-up in public, let alone turned on the gusher as Boehner regularly does.

Lewis is doing this for corporations trying to muscle Boehner into being even more compliant. It’s hard for anyone to imagine a politician more corporate-friendly than Boehner. But the corporations Lewis lobbies for don’t want mere cooperation but complete abasement as they take direct control of the Speaker’s podium.

Corporate efforts to gain power over government officials have a long, sordid history. When J. Edgar Hoover was appointed to head the newly created F.B.I., both corporations and organized crime used threats of revealing his homosexuality as a tool to restrict what the F.B.I. investigated. For all the time Hoover headed the F.B.I., that agency refused to investigate corporate crime of any sort. Hoover also refused to pursue organized crime, even when pushed by Bobbie Kennedy. He focused the F.B.I. on hunting for “Reds,” helping McCarthy and others to justify the Cold War and assisting any corporation that ever asked him for aid in busting unions or disparaging civil rights, workers’ rights or consumer rights activists. The whole nation suffered while a few multimillionaires exploited Hoover’s fear of being exposed as the F.B.I.’s queen.

For years, the corporate press buried stories of Admiral McCain’s son’s drunken rages and repeated crashes of the multimillion dollar jets to which his father’s power gave him playtoy access. Through most of the last 60 years, the ‘liberal’ media didn’t report on Pentagon officers making large fortunes by “consulting” for the very companies who sell the government war toys. The whole society suffered while corporate managers traded press silence and handfuls of money for general officers’ eager recommendations of over-priced, under-performing war toys.

J. Edgar Hoover

J. Edgar Hoover

Times change. Ronald Reagan, of all people, took on military contracting fraud. His assault lasted only a few years. Then we moved back to the no-bid contracts and cozy deal making that will ensure that our oil war generals are all close to billionaire status when they retire. But Reagan opened the door and shook the system.

Reagan was also the man who made open homosexuality a reality in Washington. Like any president, Reagan brought plenty of his pals with him from Hollywood to D.C. Among these were men he had played and worked with, in an industry less interested in sexual orientation than with creative drive and ability. Many of Reagan’s friends were gay and accepted in his world. They came with him to Washington.

The initial reaction to the Reagan gay crowd, was major P.R. and fundraising campaigns for anti-gay hate groups. This was a direct response to the Reagan social revolution. And it laid the groundwork for the end of the Hoover era, as the hypocrisy of right-wing support of his homosexuality became more of a focus than his loyalty to corporate influence peddling.

The corporate assault on civil rights had focused on race, into the ‘80s. But that was (and is) a losing battle. Then, after a few decades of profitable gay-bash campaigning, people came to realize that the bigotry was putting the U.S. military at risk right in the middle of two corporate oil wars.

With even the Senate now voting to end D.A.D.T., corporate policy wonks are desparately in need of a new target group. For a few years, Moslems will be suitably profitable targets. But the facile dishonesty of that targeting will emerge through the internet and social networking even faster than the anti-gay hypocrisy was revealed.

What is this to John Boehner? He was a drunk long before he emerged as leader of the Republican House – long before we all learned that the Republican Party’s policy chief, Rush Limbaugh, was a drug addict. But by all reports, Boehner’s drinking is getting worse.

Can we wonder if there is a Christmas marvel at work here? Boehner was a back-bench corporate deal-maker in Congress for years. He did his masters’ bidding and collected his cut. But what if he actually had some moral values behind that pumpkin orange face? What if he took the graft and did corporate bidding while expecting others to actually keep the nation running? What if he is now becoming conscious that his corrupt work and back office manipulations have helped turn his political party over to overt racists like Rand Paul and aggressive re-segregationists like Lindsey Graham, Jim DeMint, and Haley Barbour?

Is it possible to hope that the constant deal maker is upping his alcohol consumption to try to drown the pangs of conscience? Are his tears attempts to wash away the mental images of a country being raped by people that he helped gain control?

Is he learning, now that he has given control to the bosses, that they have little further use for him? After working his way up the system, how does it feel to have young messenger boys from corporate bosses giving him instruction on how to act?

Lewis’ assault on Boehner is an exercise in both corporate muscle flexing and restraint. Two essays by a national corporate lobbyist in a week were meant to put Boehner on notice. The rest of the corporate media did not pick the story up. The stories were a warning to Boehner – do what we want or publicity on this story is what will mark the end of your career. A clear blackmail threat – be obedient to our demands or pay the price.

This is how entrenched interests controlled J. Edgar Hoover, leading to decades of non-investigation and non-enforcement of laws against organized and corporate crimes. But the Hoover blackmail was secret. The corporate interests knew, for decades, that such blatant display of coercive conduct would incur rapid angry public reaction.

But now the corporate interests have consolidated control of the media. They have consolidated control of both house of congress. Now, they have no need of secrecy. In fact, secrecy might be counter-productive.

In 2010, the corporate elite were shaken as much as the Democrats by the Tea Party movement. They thought that they had created a controllable mob, but as with so many mobs in the past, the Tea Partiers refused to be controlled. They elected overt, open racists – threatening nuanced corporate discrimination policies, that have kept race a profitable management issue, while keeping it below the boiling point. They elected people who announced plans to seek accountability for banks and other types of corporations.

Tom HallSo the corporations needed to respond. With two columns written by one of their lobbyists, they put both Boehner and the newbie Tea Party representatives on notice: Mess with us and we will expose your dirty little secrets. The message is a classic power-display. By showing the newbies that the corporate community has no qualms about slapping down the Speaker of the House, they are sending a clear message about their power to Tea Partiers who campaigned on the fear of excessive corporate power. They are now saying, “Yup, you got it right. We have the power and we’ll slap around anyone who bucks us.”

Now we get to find out if there’s any spine behind the Tea Bag rhetoric, or if the Tea Baggers fall in line behind the corporate bosses as soon as they’re  threatened.

Tom Hall

Published by the LA Progressive on December 28, 2010
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About Tom Hall

Tom Hall is a family lawyer in West Los Angeles. He is from Boston, and was raised in Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quakers) to think that religion was a progressive force. During the Vietnam War, he organized draft counseling centers and worked with groups training people in techniques for disciplined nonviolent demonstrating. After the war, he became just another yuppie working to make a comfortable life. The Bush administration shocked him back into social concerns. Now he’s working to see that the Obama administration lives up to its progressive promises. Tom can be reached at ProgBlog@aol.com