Applause for John Boehner's First Speech as Speaker of the House

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John Boehner said he was humbled in his first speech as Speaker of the House Wednesday, which was greeted by a lots of applause. Boehner said he would restore trust to "the people's House," The New York Times' Michael D. Shear reports, and "stand firm" for his party's principles. But despite his Republicans' solid victory in the midterm elections, he also pledged to respect the minority party's right to "an honest debate--a fair and open process."

Here are the first reactions to the speech.

  • He Didn't Overpromise, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes. Most incoming speakers promise too much, but "Boehner promised almost nothing at all. He certainly didn't set himself up as a foil to President Obama, or anoint himself leader of a new conservative moment in American politics. Rather, his speech had two themes: Humility, and comity. ... It was, I think, as smart a speech as I've seen a politician give -- in part because it was savvy about what it didn't say, which is a rare virtue in Washington."
  • Refreshing, The National Review's Tevi Troy writes. "Speaker John Boehner's (I love writing that) speech today hit all of the right notes in focusing on humility and transparency, which have been characteristics sorely lacking among recent congressional leaders." But going forward, Troy writes, Boehner will also have to show he's serious by "clamping down irresponsible rhetoric on the part of some of his members" and addressing budget problems.
  • A Pro-Life Shout-Out?  "[I]t was a nice touch when Boehner, who is a Catholic, recalled the ashes of Ash Wednesday," The National Review's Charlotte Hays notes, "which symbolize the transitory nature of life and, by extension, of power. ... Boehner projected the sense that he knows that the country is in trouble and that House members must behave like adults in these serious times."
  • Glad He Didn't Hide His Emotions, The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart says. "To quote Vice President Biden in another context, Boehner's accomplishment is 'a big #&@!% deal.' Now comes the hard part--governing."
  • Boehner Shouldn't Stop Crying, The National Review's Marjorie Dannenfelser urges. "I, for one, will start crying if he ever stops. It is a sign of humility and sensitivity to what is moving because it is true."
  • A Civil, Boisterous Ceremony, Time's Jay Newton-Small reports. "Both Boehner and Pelosi received standing ovations and Pelosi passed Boehner a mock giant gavel, which produced chuckles from more than a few members. It was a degree of decorum not often seen in the last 'You lie!' Congress. If only it would last."

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