One of the hallmarks of two of the greatest male screen stars of all times, Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood is their reticence. Nearly all the characters they play on film define themselves by their deeds and not their words. To paraphrase an expression of Theodore Roosevelt, they speak little, but, when necessary, wield their weapons deliberately — and decisively.
Contrasting House Speaker John Boehner this past week with his primary sparring partner (in the budget negotiations) and the last Republican speaker to succeed a Democratic one, I could not be notice his similarity to those great stars of the silver screen. He may shed a few more tears than either of those men, but unlike them, didn’t shower the public with as many words. John Boehner didn’t lay his cards on the table until it was time to play them.
By contrast, the president and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich seem to find their strength not in holding their tongue, but in wielding it regularly and loudly. Each man delights in his ability to express himself — and the response he often gets from such expression. But while each man has often made intelligent observations, both have also frequently repeated numerous banalities and occasionally made embarrassing gaffes. (Fortunately for the president, the media do not delight in highlighting his as they do those of Mr. Gingrich.)
Some conservatives may despair that we did not get the amount of cuts we would have liked, but they did trim more than $75 billion off the budget the president proposed for a fiscal year for which his party had been elected to set the nation’s fiscal course. And unlike the last tense budget negotiations between a charismatic Democratic president and a newly elected Republican House majority, without the Republican speaker being defined like a villain.
This is perhaps because the incumbent speaker is far more judicious in his public statements than was Gingrich.