Next week, however, things will change. A lot of Americans are about to be introduced to John Boehner and it’s unlikely they’ll like what they see. Partly, that’s because congressional leaders are usually unpopular. They’re sausage-makers, practitioners of an art that most Americans despise. And they’re rarely good on TV, which is not surprising given that they’ve been elevated within their parties because of their skills behind closed doors.
But Boehner is a particularly tough sell. Just as Pelosi, as a wealthy San Franciscan, confirmed popular stereotypes about Democrats as the party of the cultural elite, Boehner—with his coterie of golf-playing, cigar-chomping lobbyist buddies—confirms popular stereotypes about Republicans as the party of corporate fat cats. Republicans may hope that the public, having just voted overwhelmingly for their side, will be inclined to show its leaders some love. But that’s not what the polling suggests. Disapproval of Congress, according to the Times, is an amazing 76 percent, the highest figure ever recorded, which helps explain why Republicans are about to win big. But just as amazingly, the Republican Party’s approval rating is five points lower than that of the Democrats. What that means is that putting the GOP in control is unlikely to improve Americans’ opinion of the legislative branch.