With Republicans back in control of the House of Representatives, the new Speaker is Ohio congressman John Boehner, noted chiefly in the popular imagination as overly tanned and prone to tears. But Boehner, who is celebrating twenty years in Congress, has an involvement in the GOP leadership extending well over a decade, since the now infamous 1994 Contract with America, which he helped Newt Gingrich to craft.
The 61-year-old Boehner’s origins are extremely humble. Born the second of twelve siblings in a German/Irish family who owned a bar in Cincinnati, he grew up in a two-bedroom home and spent his teens working odd jobs and mopping up the bar after closing. He was the first in his family to obtain a college degree, garnering a BA in business in 1977 that took seven years to earn, due to the financial necessity of continuing with full-time employment during his studies. After graduation he accepted an entry-level job with Nucite Sales, a small plastics firm, eventually becoming president of the company before retiring in 1990 to seek political office.
In that year he wrested the GOP nomination for Ohio’s 8th District from incumbent Representative Buz Lukens, who was in disgrace for a sexual relationship with a minor. Boehner has held the heavily Republican district in the Cincinnati suburbs since then with no significant opposition.
In 1994 he helped then Minority Leader Newt Gingrich to write the Contract with America, a notable piece of political PR that assisted the GOP in taking over the House for the first time in 40 years in the election that November. Boehner was rewarded the following January with the position of House Republican Conference Chairman, the fourth-ranking spot in GOP congressional leadership, which he held until 1999, after minor election reversals provoked a leadership shake-up for the Party.
Influential in passing the 2001 “No Child Left behind” education legislation, Boehner remained largely under the radar for the next five years, until winning the post of Majority Leader in an upset election in February 2006 after Tom Delay resigned in the wake of indictment on criminal charges. Boehner did not remain Majority Leader for long, as the Democrat resurgence in the November 2006 elections left House Republicans in the minority. Republicans chose him as Minority Leader, and in this capacity he twice challenged Nancy Pelosi for the position of Speaker, but lost both times. In late summer 2010, the White House briefly attempted to use Boehner as a distraction to derail the approaching GOP electoral juggernaut, but the tactic failed to gain traction with the public, for most of whom Boehner was an unknown. After Republicans regained the majority in the November 2010 elections, Boehner was unanimously chosen as the GOP nominee for Speaker (on his 61st birthday), and won the subsequent election, beginning his term when the new Congress was seated in January 2011.
Boehner’s voting record shows him as staunchly conservative in pro-business leanings, but not overly so on social issues, making religious conservatives wary of his leadership. He supported the TARP big bank bailout but opposed climate change legislation, the 2009 stimulus bill, and the Healthcare Reform Act (which he has promised to repeal or defund). On January 19, 2011, the House duly voted to repeal the legislation, a largely symbolic act since Republicans do not control the Senate, nor have enough votes to override the presidential veto that would surely follow any repeal bill that somehow managed to pass the Congress.
John Boehner has been married to Deborah Gunlack since 1973; the couple met while both worked for the Marion Merrell Dow plant in Reading, Ohio, John as a janitor and Debbie in accounting. They have two daughters, Lindsay and Tricia.Born 17 November 1949, John Boehner has a chart which well describes his position and life circumstances, as well as the idiosyncracies that make him stand out in the popular imagination. The Sun at 24 Scorpio is exactly opposed a Black Hole at 24 Taurus and exactly squared a Quasar at 24 Aquarius. Sun/Black Hole individuals can be difficult to truly know, as they have adaptive personalities and easily portray whatever is expected of them, showing a different face to others as needed. There is a strong attraction for power, something reinforced in this chart by a square from the Sun to Pluto at 18 Leo, indicating a desire to wield power and be a transformative force in the world.
Many Black Hole Suns prefer to work behind the scenes, pulling strings and manipulating others from the shadows, but with the Sun also squared a Quasar, this was not a long-term option for Boehner. Quasars are among the brightest objects in the universe, and cast a brilliant spotlight upon whatever they touch, like setting a beacon on a hilltop. They promote success and networking, attracting the right person or circumstance into the life at just the right time, to produce the desired effect. These individuals stand out in a crowd, it is not possible to remain concealed for long, although the Black Hole can mask the inner workings and assist in presenting a face which, although highly public, may be nothing more than a false front intended to deceive.
Mercury conjoins the Sun from 22 Scorpio, identifying communication as vital to Boehner’s sense of self. Noted for his careful deliberation in choosing his words, Boehner rarely missteps verbally or utters anything like a faux pas. His opposite number in the Senate, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, may be caught in an all-too-honest appraisal that defeating Obama’s re-election is Job One for the new Congress, but Boehner would never be so open in his animosity nor forthright in his motivations. The Sun also conjoins asteroids Johannes (for John) at 23 Scorpio and House at 1 Sagittarius, and together this quadruple conjunction quite clearly spells Boehner (Sun/Johannes) as House (House) Speaker (Mercury).
Asteroid Industria falls into this mix as well, from 0 Sagittarius, defining Boehner as a hard worker, one who puts his nose to the grindstone and gets the job done, as evidenced by his years as a youth working odd jobs and helping out at the family bar, the seven years it took him to work his way through college, and the climb through the ranks from entry level to president at Nucite. Boehner’s work ethic is also apparent in his assiduous attention to his congressional duties, which was instrumental in guaranteeing his rise to a leadership position.
Asteroid Washingtonia at 6 Sagittarius, although too far from the Sun to be considered conjunct, does impact the stellium via its contact with House and Industria, indicating the nation’s capital as the venue for his employment. On the far side, Washingtonia conjoins Chiron at 10 Sagittarius and asteroid Barry at 11 Sagittarius, which together signal a potential wounding (Chiron) for Obama (Barry, the name by which he was known in youth) in the capital (Washingtonia), and perhaps a maverick, nonconformist role for Boehner to play at some point in his political career. Washingtonia is also involved in a tight Grand Trine with asteroid Ohio, Boehner’s state, at 5 Leo and TNO Eris, representing dissent, disaffection, strife and discord, at 6 Aries retrograde.
Boehner has two distinguishing character traits that identify him for others—public crying and an unusual skin tone that have caused some to describe him as “an Orange American.” In a sign that the cosmos is always up for a good joke, we see that Boehner’s 24 Scorpio Sun opposes asteroid Niobe at 27 Taurus, named for a woman in Greek myth who famously wept, and continued to shed tears even after Zeus took pity on her and turned her to stone. Niobe’s weeping stemmed from the loss of all her 14 children, and one of Boehner’s triggers appears to be based in his personal and family history, as he frequently tearily recounts his origins. But Niobe’s loss originated in her own pride in her family, whom she compared with Leto’s divine progeny to the latter’s detriment, whereupon Apollo and Artemis killed them to revenge their mother. In Boehner’s chart, asteroid Hybris (hubris, pride), forms a T-Square with Sun/Niobe from 23 Aquarius, indicating that pride may be an issue for him as well, and with Damocles at 22 Taurus hovering near Niobe and opposing the Sun, this may be a source of downfall.
Pride may have to do with Boehner’s other famed characteristic, the extremely tanned complexion. President Obama quipped at the 2009 White House Correspondents Dinner that he and Boehner had “a lot in common,” as he was also “a person of color, although not a color that appears in the natural world.” A spate of controversy and speculation in September 2010 included a poll of Ohioans, 30% of whom thought Boehner spent too much time on his tan, causing the then Minority Leader to refute the allegations that he had ever used a tanning bed or a tanning product in a Wall Street Journal interview. He further suggested to ABC News that his coloring was the result of heredity (stating his mother and two siblings share his skin tone) and a love of outdoor activities such as golf, lawn cutting and mountain biking. Whatever its source, with the Sun semisquare to Venus at 12 Capricorn, asteroid Narcissus at 19 Libra conjunct Neptune at 16 Libra (both squared Venus), and asteroid Aphrodite at 6 Sagittarius exactly on Washingtonia, as well as the Sun squared Hybris, there is plenty of room for a prideful (Hybris), fascinated focus (Narcissus) on appearance and complexion (Venus/Aphrodite).
Boehner is well tapped into the nation’s power source, with natal Jupiter (politics, policies) at 27 Capricorn exactly conjunct the USA Pluto. His status as a leader in the government is well documented by a combination of Mars (leader) and Saturn (government) at 11 and 17 Virgo, into which intrudes asteroids America at 21 Virgo, showing which world government he’ll impact, and Cincinnati at 14 Virgo, showing the seat of his power, in the congressional district that sent him to Washington.
Mars/Saturn squared Barry is another indicator that Boehner will be a thorn in Obama’s side, creating conflict and challenge (square), proving a restriction or brake (Saturn) on the President’s agenda, and offering battle (Mars) on proposed legislation (Saturn). Saturn exactly squared a Black Hole at 17 Sagittarius reflects a career with an initial difficulty in gaining traction (the protracted education), an unlikely rise or promotion (from entry level to president of the same company) and at least one major shift in focus to an unrelated career path (as when Boehner moved from the private sector to public service in 1990).
Boehner’s rise to power has affected Nancy Pelosi as well, causing her demotion from Speaker, and an inherent conflict between them can be seen in natal Neptune at 16 Libra squared his natal asteroid Nancy at 10 Cancer, with Mars at 11 Virgo tightly sextile Nancy, indicating his actions constitute a loss or disappointment (Neptune) for her, and provoke antagonism (Mars). The Solar Eclipse at 13 Capricorn on January 4, 2011, fell on his Venus and opposed Nancy, and came just one day before Boehner “eclipsed” Pelosi, who was the first female (Venus) Speaker.
What impact will Boehner have as Speaker? Future eclipses may indicate issues to arise, as the Solar Eclipse of 1 June 2011 at 11 Gemini forms an exact T-Square with the Mars/Barry natal square, and that of 25 November 2011 at 2 Sagittarius falls closely conjunct the 1 Sagittarius House, while the Lunar Eclipse of December 10 at 18 Gemini squares his Saturn. Conflict with the administration this summer, some form of upset in the House, and a challenge to his authority next fall, are likely to ensue.
2012 looks problematic as well, with a 0 Gemini Solar Eclipse opposing House and a “return engagement” Lunar Eclipse again squaring Saturn (authority, career) and falling on Chiron (wounding) from 14 Sagittarius in June, followed by a 21 Scorpio Solar Eclipse on the Sun just days after the November election, and an exact Lunar Eclipse hit opposed Washingtonia two weeks later. A 2012 Democratic resurgence in the House sufficient to eclipse Boehner as Speaker seems unlikely, but an intra-Party squabble that costs him his position, or a primary or general election loss that ends his career, are possible outcomes of this energy.
But for the next two years at least, we can expect to continue to see John Boehner, the nation’s first Orange American Weeper of the House.