Member Login

Ken Rechtin's Another Voice: Boehner & Bar Management 101

Each Sunday, I try to watch one or more of the Sunday morning political talk shows. 

This past Sunday morning was no exception. My choice was Face the Nation. Interviewed that morning was our Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.

Towards the end of the interview, Mr. Boehner indicated that running the House was similar to running the family business in Ohio.

“(I) grew up in a bar. Everything I -- every -- a lot of lessons I learned to do my job, I learned growing up in that bar.”

In a takeoff of “Everything that I need in life, I learned in Kindergarten”, Speaker Boehner seemed to indicate that everything he learned in his family’s bar business, in which he grew up, he uses in running the United States House of Representatives. He called managing the House a “messy” business.

Here comes my disclaimer: I have never owned a bar.

But, I have frequented them often enough such that I feel somewhat qualified to speak about them. I have been in poorly managed bars and in well managed bars, so when I speak about the behavior of a bar, I consider myself an expert. 

One does not need to own a bar in order to be able to judge bar operations and management. 

Considering the leadership of the Speaker, I would say that Speaker Boehner really didn’t even learn the basics about running a bar. As a bar owner/manager:

You have to make decisions. You are either a bar which permits smoking or one that doesn’t. You cannot have it both ways. The smoking behavior of one patron has an impact on the other patrons. You can’t ever have enough labels of beers that you can satisfy every taste! Sometimes you must tell the patron: “Suck it up and drink the Miller Lite, I am not going down the street and buying you a case of Bud Light! You can’t always have it your way. You do not have a constitutional right to Bud Light.”

Sometimes you must ban a patron from the bar for unruly behavior. Coddling your contrarians just makes it more difficult to lead. The folks that do behave and play by the rules see no reason to do so if the folks that do not are never punished.

When a fight breaks out, you call the cops! You cannot fix all the interpersonal problems! Just because they call themselves “Boehner Bar Buddies” does not mean they are your friends. 

You make the decision that Thursday is Karaoke Night. The patrons do not make the rules in the asylum. It is your asylum, you make the rules.

When the customer drinks too much and gets sick, which happens every night, make his buddies clean it up. As the leader, the cleanup in the men’s room is not your responsibility.

If the behavior is illegal outside the bar, it is illegal inside as well. So, do not permit illegal activity in your house!

Speaker Boehner, want to see a well-run bar? Just look to the reruns of Cheers. Sam Malone owns and runs a good bar. Just listen to the lyrics of the opening song:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got/Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot/Wouldn't you like to get away?/Sometimes you want to go/Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came/You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same/You wanna be where everybody knows your name/You wanna go where people know, people are all the same/You wanna go where everybody knows your name. 

Sam ran a bar where he knew everyone’s name. He knew that we were all the same. He knew that each of us have the same troubles. Sam never allowed bar fights. Cheers was never a messy place. Norm, Frazier, Cliff, Diane, Carla, Lilith, and Woody. Each of them were different, very different. But each was given the respect that they were due. Each voice was heard. All opinions were respected. It was not a messy place. At the end of the show, Sam was respected as the leader.

Mr. Speaker, you could be Sam Malone!

If you can’t run a successful bar, that is no reason to blame your failure on either The McConnell Irish Pub or The Obama Bar and Grill. Admit it, you did not learn your lessons from the family business. 

If you don’t like your job, you can always let someone else do it. You will find work. There is life outside of Washington. How about a reality show where you are called in to “fix” a failing bar? (Maybe Fox News could sponsor this program for you? There is a hole in the lineup where Huckabee used to be.)

Mr. Speaker, I think if the McConnell Irish Pub can sponsor a softball team which cooperates to win games, you can too!

This week’s survey is simple, just rate John Boehner’s success. Click Here.

For more of Ken Rechtin's Another Voice, click here.
The views and opinions expressed here in “Another Voice” do not reflect the views or opinions of The River City News, its owners, writers, or editors. These are solely the ideas of Ken Rechtin. If you wish to make comment to Another Voice, Ken can be reached via email at [email protected] or you may leave a comment here. All rights to use of Another Voice in any fashion are retained by Ken Rechtin. Please contact him for any use of his columns.
Photo via