/ 7 October 2010

In John Boehner, the future looks orange

“John Boehner and I have a lot in common,” President Obama joked not too long ago. “He is a person of colour, although not a colour that appears in the natural world.”

Boehner is one of the country’s most powerful politicians. Millions of Americans may know him best, though, because of his pronounced and seemingly permanent tan.

They’re about to find out more. Boehner (pronounced Bay-ner) is poised to be the biggest winner in America’s Congressional elections next month.

The 61-year-old Republican serves as the minority leader in the House of Representatives. Public opinion polls suggest the Republicans will win a majority of seats in the House. If so, Boehner will take over as House speaker, setting the legislative agenda and emerging as the closest thing America ever gets to an official leader of the opposition.

There are still weeks to go until November 2 and the race is hardly over. But Boehner is clearly preparing for the role, announcing plans to undo much of the Obama administration’s work.

“Government is out of control in Washington,” he said recently. “We need to rein it in and begin a new drive for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government.”

Keep in mind that even if the House changes hands and Boehner gets his promotion, Obama will still be president. The Congress and the White House will both have a lot riding on their relationship. Boehner has himself described it as lacking.

In a recent appearance on the Fox News network, Boehner picked up on the Obama’s joke about his tan and then went on to say something more.

“We talk about golf, we talk about our skin colour, we have a nice relationship. The problem we have is that when we talk to each other, there’s no connection,” he said. “When I talk about the real world, it doesn’t seem to register.”

Personally and politically, things could get difficult. Then what?

Wait and watch. Even if you don’t recognise many American politicians, Boehner will be easy to spot.