The Red Hat Theory

by Robert Costa

Around 7 a.m. today, I strolled into Pete’s Diner. It’s my favorite breakfast spot, and Pete’s special — French toast, one egg, bacon, and home fries, plus coffee — is excellent. It’s also Speaker Boehner’s morning haunt

Nearly every morning, Speaker John Boehner wakes at dawn at his Capitol Hill home, puts on khaki shorts and a golf shirt, and takes a brief walk to a greasy spoon called Pete’s Diner. He travels alone, except for his security detail, and he sits at the counter, which is often crowded with police officers and college students. The Chinese family that runs the place knows him as “John” — just another customer and early riser. Over coffee and eggs, he reads his iPad and cracks jokes with the short-order cooks. Most days, like clockwork, he’s out of there by 6:30 a.m., on his way either to Mass or to work. Boehner’s friends chuckle about his penchant for Pete’s. They suspect he likes it because it reminds him of Andy’s Café, the bar his family long owned in southwest Ohio. 

Sure enough, Boehner arrived at 7:30 a.m. Beyond his security detail, he traveled alone. He wore a red baseball cap and a sky-blue fleece. After he ate a quick meal, I briefly spoke with him. He told me he was in good spirits, but he was mum about how the shutdown drama would unfold.

My Boehner sighting, especially the red cap, caused a stir on Twitter. Maybe it was a signal, writes Bloomberg Businessweek’s Josh Green:

Some people study the Talmud to unlock hidden meaning. Some people study the Zapruder film. Bloomberg Television’s Hans Nichols studies John Boehner. While staking out Boehner’s Capitol Hill townhouse during the last congressional crisis, Hans discovered that Boehner has a secret signal — or maybe a better analogy would be a poker player’s “tell” — that, if you know to look for it, is a reliable guide to what is about to happen next. It all has to do Boehner’s red baseball cap . . . The upshot: If Boehner leaves his house wearing the red baseball cap, there will be no deal. 

We’ll see tonight if the theory holds.

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