The Media Prepares America for 'Speaker Boehner'

Challenges await the man who would be Speaker

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If, as expected, Republicans retake the House next week, Ohio Rep. John Boehner will almost certainly become the 61st Speaker. What can America expect from a Boehner-led congress? A variety of opinions from around the web.

  • Tough-to-Fulfill Promises of Bipartisanship The Washington Post's Paul Kane writes that while Boehner professes to value cooperation and compromise over "the zero-sum approach to politics" favored by previous speakers Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich, his caucus might not be as receptive. Boehner, Kane notes, will be forced to contend with "the prospect of a slim majority" and "a bevy of tea party freshmen arriving in the capital with what they believe is a mandate to challenge the leadership," both of which could derail Boehner's "vow to bring courtesy back to the Capitol."
  • Pragmatic Boehner may be conservative, but he's no ideologue, says Vanity Fair's Todd Purdum. Rather, he is a typical, traditional, not unreasonable, frankly likable Republican. Purdum puts Boehner's moderation in context:
Boehner is by nature a salesman, a deal-maker, not an ideologue. He has been respectful of the anger of Tea Party voters and has attended some of their events, but he has not embraced their tone. He has given a wide berth to the controversial proposal by Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, to dramatically cut back and effectively privatize Social Security and Medicare. On more than one occasion, at roundtable discussions with reporters this summer and fall, I watched him decline to mix it up on hot-button topics on which the loudest voices in his party had taken strong stands. These included the Obama administration’s hasty (and mistaken) firing of a black Department of Agriculture official who was accused of making racist remarks, when in fact she’d been calling for tolerance; the controversy over the proposed Muslim prayer room and cultural center near Ground Zero, in Manhattan; and the nature of Barack Obama’s religious beliefs.
  • Little Room for Error  Boehner will face an early and critical challenge in his dealings with the Tea Party-backed freshman class, observes Politico's Jake Sherman. It will be a challenge--but not impossible--for the GOP's "true legislators and compromisers, like Boehner himself, who will actually have to make the difficult deals that keep the House relevant" to strike a viable working relationship in the months and years to come with a "rookie class ready to turn Washington on its head," to say nothing of already-sitting "conservative media darlings" like Rep. Michele Bachmann who are "largely uninterested in compromise but are able to drive the Republican conversation with incendiary, cable-friendly sound bites."
  • The Money Gap Closed  Arguably Boehner's greatest appeal to members of his own party, observes The New York Times' Michael Luo, is his fundraising prowess. During this election cycle Boehner has demonstrated a "mushrooming ability to command big checks," including $1.9 million in donations to his fundraising committee in the past three months alone. "About half of the 29 PACs that gave to Boehner for Speaker did not contribute to him or his leadership PAC during the 2008 election cycle," writes Luo, "a telling sign of the newfound interest in Mr. Boehner’s power." Boehner in turn, has spread the wealth around, transferring funds to other GOP campaigns in an effort to "spur members of his caucus."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.