In his speech today, John Boehner showed himself to be among the most impressive figures on our political landscape, and he did it by being that rarest of things in politics: a humble human being.
His opening ad-lib quieting thunderous applause – “It’s still just me” – should be an instructional moment in public behavior in our celebrity culture. Can you imagine Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama or even, alas, Sarah Palin saying such a thing with the authenticity Boehner clearly had at such a moment?
I’ve had occasion a few times recently to go back and revisit my piece in American Thinker during the election of 2008 on then-candidate Obama’s ego. After reading about Boehner’s humility-laden speech and approach as described by Simon, it reminded me again about this particular part:
A campaign willing to showcase this large an ego without any evidence of modesty or shame is underway. Obama's last gasp effort at combating the notion that he considers himself more highly than he ought came in his victory speech in St. Paul upon securing enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination:
"The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility."
Give Obama points for associating himself with the word "profound" while seeming to claim humility.
But even that humility lasted all of a few seconds, when he quickly shed it with this:
"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when...the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
A man who brags that his humility is profound is not humble. A man who claims certainty that his nomination is the moment when the entire planet will begin healing is not humble.
Boehner, on the other hand, didn’t talk about himself being humble. Genuinely humble people rarely do. Boehner simply spoke humbly. Falsely humble people rarely do.
There are those who might claim that Boehner is the rare person to do so. And since he's a politician, I'm willing to evaluate Boehner according to his actions going forward, rather than drawing conclusions at this pont.
But as for Obama, the conclusions I may have prematurely arrived at during the campaign have since been judged correct by his actions over the past two years as president.