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Published: Saturday, 8/13/2011

Par for the course

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is all about jobs. Attending $10,000-a-head golf outings is just part of the tough price he has to pay in his quest to put Ohioans and other Americans back to work.

The West Chester Republican was in town this week to play a round of golf at Inverness Club in support of Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green). Maybe you saw him. Then again, you probably didn't. Neither did Mr. Latta's constituents, unless they are big GOP donors or members of the private club on Dorr Street, in Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur's district.

Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook said the speaker's presence in Toledo shows "they know we're here." Mr. Boehner was whisked into town the morning of the outing, directly to the club. There were no trips to boarded-up city neighborhoods or shuttered storefronts on the way to the first tee.

The speaker did see the donors who paid $1,000 to $10,000 to attend the event. It's not likely many of them were unemployed or had homes in foreclosure. He might not have seen the protesters outside the gates of the club, holding signs that implored him to create jobs.

After shooting a commendable 81 on the par-71 course, Mr. Boehner attended a private reception. What he spoke about is known only to the big-money golfers and smaller donors who paid $150 each to rub elbows with the powerful Republican. The only working stiffs there were serving food and mixing drinks.

Mr. Boehner isn't alone, certainly. It's par for the course for Republican and Democratic pols to claim solidarity with "the American people," almost all of whom are effectively -- and sometimes literally -- walled off from them and their big-money fund-raisers.

Miss Kaptur, who called on Mr. Boehner to join her in supporting legislation that would limit campaign spending and "restore the government to the people," also benefits from deep-pocket donors. This week, 140 people paid $15,000 a family to hobnob with President Obama at a private residence in Washington. But while politicians of both parties engage in such activities, they seldom occur this close to home.

Mr. Boehner often invokes his hardscrabble roots: He grew up with 11 brothers and sisters. He washed floors in the family-owned bar at the age of 8. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. Recalling his humble beginnings can bring tears to his eyes.

Still, you wonder whether he and other politicians might benefit from spending a night in a homeless shelter, or sharing dinner with a family living in its car.

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