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June 16, 2011

Boehner’s Ciggy

Knoller Boehner White House picnic

I find this TwitPic snapped and posted by CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller during the Congressional picnic at the White House to be both amazing and infuriating at the same time. Here’s why:

1. This is a brilliant example of the disconnect between D.C. and the American people, reflecting the club atmosphere separating politicians and big media from the folks at home. (This photo, in contrast, is representative of the John Boehner picnic bologna the newswires shipped off for public consumption.)

2. If we already know Washington is a lot more like Hollywood than real life, this photo is a profoundly rare everyday visual example of it, helping us to actually see with our own eyes how little correlation there is between personality, behavior and the communications and scenes we’re fed a daily diet of.

3. One effect of the Weiner affair is that DC, if it wasn’t already, is riddled with social media-, and Twitter-envy. Knoller, in posting this photo, obviously wants to have it both ways. So while holding tight to his membership in the club, Knoller — as part of a righteous, if hypocritical collusion between politicos and the media that drove Weiner to resign — defies the club in posting a “gotcha” picture in order to boost his own social networking status with some “bad boy” cred.

4. Regarding Boehner, specifically, the obvious message here is to think twice about what’s on the lips of the Speaker. The other takeaway is to consider that what’s coming from John and the political establishment (given the budget dance, as the drama of the day) is a sanctimonious act.

(photo: Mark Knoller/TwitPics. linked photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images caption: Speaker of the House John Boehner (L) speaks with a young boy as members of Congress and their families attend the Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 15, 2011, hosted by US President Barack Obama.)

  • Enoch Root

    This photo tells me that the crying is an act. That’s more important than the cig.

  • AJ

    Of course it’s an act – it’s politics – it’s ALL an act.  The public is fed a diet to control them – reality has very little to do with it. 

  • Matt

    “we’ve come a long way baby”

    isn’t it amazing that seeing a picture of the speaker of the house smoking a cigarette (or reading about a president doing the same) is itself remarkable?

    but maybe that’s the point here – why this pic has resonance.

    we are part of a new generation – with new challenges but also new understanding of our world. and yet boehner and much of his party embrace the past – with its mad men mystique – and ignore the same unpleasant realities that the privileged of that era did.

    the unforgivable shame of it is that we, unlike those of that earlier generation, know with as much certainty as modernity can afford that smoking causes horrible cancers, humanity is altering the earth’s climate, etc., etc.

    • psychohistorian

      What struck me was that out here in the West you are not allowed to pollute others direct air space with your addiction….you have to smoke in a designated area.  

      As an ex smoker, this picture shows the first puff “fix” look of a true addict.

  • BooksAlive

    Then there’s the disagreeable odor you detect when standing up close to a smoker, politicians beware!

  • caraf

    Totally unfair comparison, but I immediately keyed into this visual analogue:

  • caraf

    Totally unfair comparison, but I immediately keyed into this visual analogue:

  • r

    Anyone posting here or many forums about the public ‘not getting it’ or docile. Are quite wrong. I do see straws in the wind in my day to day conversation and political blogs (both left and right). It’s all anecdotal evidence but I’m convinced that we are headed to a tipping point.

    One just has to have patience. But ‘they’ are starting to get it.

    • Michael Shaw


  • Moneymoneymoney4

    You base all these allegations on a single photo? Wow…you really showed hard evidence here. You must be a big shot lawyer with a real pension for giving the full story.

  • Bajsa

    I’ve been around Boehner. The hard thing is to photograph him WITHOUT a cigarette. When I was around him, three years ago, he was a true chain smoker.

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