After capturing the energy of conservative activists to lead his party to a historic election, John Boehner becomes Speaker of the House today. Now comes the hard part. For months, Boehner has been carefully planning for his new gig, The New York Times' Carl Hulse reports, which could prove difficult as he tries to manage the Tea Party-backed freshmen representatives who perhaps don't yet understand how Washington works.
Boehner's first moves will help keep Tea Partiers happy--he's scheduled votes this week on slashing the House budget by $35.2 million and, of course, on repealing health care reform. The latter vote is a gambit that "illustrates the predicament Mr. Boehner is in," Hulse writes, as he'll easily have the votes for it in the House, repeal will go nowhere in the Senate. And even if it somehow miraculously did, President Obama would veto a repeal. Bloggers are wondering which promises Boehner will keep, and which he'll back slowly, slowly away from. Here's
- Keep the Ceremony Humble, Politics Daily's Walter Shapiro cautions. "The investiture of a new House speaker should not be confused with a presidential inauguration--a detail that eluded both Newt Gingrich in 1995 and Nancy Pelosi in 2007... The unalterable truth is that--without the active cooperation of the president--it is virtually impossible for a House speaker to undo the past and extremely difficult for him or her to dictate the future." Evidence from prior speakers: "Gingrich initially lost his showdown with Bill Clinton over federal spending, but achieved lasting influence when he worked with the president on welfare reform and a balanced budget. Despite the grandiose hopes of her liberal supporters, the elevation of Pelosi as speaker did not end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--or transform any major policies of the Bush administration."
- Appealing to Both Sides "Incoming House Speaker John Boehner will strike a decidedly populist tone when he takes the gavel on Wednesday," , Hotline's Jeremy P. Jacobs predicts, "aiming 'to give government back to the people.' The tone is an attempt to tap into the discontent among the public that was clearly evident in last year's midterm elections. It is also a sign of Boehner's attempt to appeal to both the more moderate, establishment wing of his part and the new Tea Party members--many of whom campaigned staunchly against the Washington establishment."
- Already Backing Down, Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis writes. "Less than twenty-four hours before the 112th Congress is set to convene, House Republicans are already backing off their pledge to cut $100 Billion from the Federal Budget... Republicans are apparently blaming this on the fact that the 111th Congress never got around to passing a final budget and the fact that Fiscal Year 2011 is already three months old, but shouldn’t they have thought about those things before making the promise in the first place, and then repeating it numerous times both before and after the election? This is not an auspicious beginning guys."
- Coming Out Strong That's the feeling among some conservatives, vocalized by, among others, blogger Cubachi. Noting that Boehner issued a strongly-worded rebuke to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's warning that Republicans shouldn't bother trying to repeal health care reform, Cbuachi writes, "Boehner remembers why the Tea Party and conservatives placed him and the republican party back into power. We not only want fiscal conservatism and blockage of Obama’s big spending ways, we want all of Obamacare repealed. Bravo to Boehner!"
- Pleasing Image Responding to a story that Boehner spends his mornings doing chores, Ann Althouse says that "Boehner's got a nice, humble image that suits the times--these post-Pelosi times. I like the picture of the man who's replacing the woman being a man with a vacuum cleaner... and it's not even a metaphorical vacuum cleaner. (I seem to remember a magazine cover illustration of Gerald Ford after the Nixon resignation. He was vacuuming the Oval Office.)"
- Boehner to Give Minority Party More Power, Hot Air's Allahpundit notes. Boehner's rules changes would "decentralize power" and give the minority party "more of a say." Allahpundit predicts: "I'd bet cash money that whatever reforms he has in mind are either mostly symbolic or will quickly be abandoned once he and Pelosi start to butt heads, but since stories like this are always good for a five-alarm freakout in the comments about the GOP selling out, let's do it."
And, Most Pressing: Who Is Boehner's Super Tall Guy Friend/Staffer? Have a look at this photo in The New York Times' big story on Boehner this morning. Has anyone else noticed that this man is enormous?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.