Exploring John Boehner, Speaker of the House

An imaginative exercise

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House Minority leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, commanded the president's attention last week by comparing the financial reform bill to using a nuclear weapon to kill an ant. President Obama pounced on the unfortunate analogy, which seemed tailor-made for Democratic ads. In the same week, former Republican representative Joe Scarborough scoffed at Boehner's work ethic, and Boehner went on the record suggesting the retirement age be raised to 70.

But what if all this seeming bad press was a ploy to pave the way for Boehner to become Speaker of the House? It sounds far-fetched, but Talking Points Memo makes the case, citing GOP strategists who see logic in the negative publicity. Other pundits, meanwhile, have already started to explore how Boehner would perform the role if and when Republicans win back a House majority.

  • The Strategy  Christina Bellantoni and Evan McMorris-Santoro lay out Republican thinking at Talking Points Memo. GOP aides "think Boehner is being aggressive -- though inartful -- on purpose and has elevated himself to merit an Obama swat-down. ... Aides concede that avoiding gaffes would help, especially since they believe that Friday's gloomy economic news gives the GOP a boost. But, at the same time, he's been effective at keeping rank-and-file members in line on major policy issues, and aides believe if the Republicans were to win back the majority there is no doubt Boehner would be their choice for speaker."
  • What Boehner Would Do  Dan Balz of the Washington Post speaks with Boehner and analyzes the representative's three-point plan. "First, he said, was a renewed commitment to fiscal discipline -- a test his party badly flunked the last time it was in the majority. Second, he said, was to engage in 'an adult conversation with the American people' about the need to rein in entitlement spending. And third, he wants to increase bipartisan cooperation in the House." But Balz notes that Boehner had "few concrete thoughts about the GOP agenda" and says disapprovingly that he "hardly sounded like a politician eager to provoke an adult conversion with the American people." 
  • Deconstructing the Boehner 'Agenda'  Liberal blogger Kevin Drum of Mother Jones picks up on this lack of details to bash the wider GOP. "You'd think that, by now, the GOP might have a decent idea of what it wants to accomplish without soliciting further ideas from the American people, but apparently not." He pokes holes in each of Boehner's vague planks before finishing him off: "Boehner insists that what he really wants to do if he becomes Speaker is restore a sense of civility and bipartisanship on Capitol Hill — even though he's been the GOP's point man for crude obstructionism from the day Barack Obama was sworn in."
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