MAYBE BOEHNER LEFT OUT THE GOOD PARTS…. If House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) goal was to get plenty of attention by delivering a speech on the economy yesterday, it was something of a success. Boehner’s remarks were widely noted, especially the made-for-the-headlines appeal that President Obama replace his economic team.
But if the goal was to demonstrate competence — or better yet, present a coherent vision of how his caucus would handle economic policy if given a majority — Boehner fell far short. Indeed, he ended up embarrassing himself a bit.
There’s no shortage of thorough fact-checking items — Boehner, surprisingly clueless about the nation’s most pressing issue, said a lot of things that weren’t true — and I’d encourage folks to check out takes from the White House, Wonk Room, Bill Scher, and Media Matters.
But Boehner’s problems go well beyond obvious errors of fact. Ruth Marcus’ takedown was very compelling.
There are times when I flirt with the notion that the country would be better off with divided government.
If Republicans took control, say, of the House, there would be pressure on both parties to behave more responsibly. The GOP would be pushed to stop carping and posturing, and start governing. Democrats would have political cover to make hard choices on entitlement spending, taxes and the like. As every politician knows, bipartisan cliff-jumping is a safer sport than going solo.
That’s the theory. Then there’s John Boehner.
The man who would be speaker outlined his agenda Tuesday in a speech to the City Club of Cleveland — economic policy reduced to, literally, five easy tweets. The Ohio Republican offered up a depressing blend of tired ideas, tired-er one-liners (“We’ve tried 19 months of government-as-community-organizer”) and cheap attacks.
She concluded with a sentiment that I’ve thought countless times in recent years: “Democrats — and the country — would benefit from a responsible opposition party. I’m still looking for evidence of one.”
Marcus wasn’t the only one who noticed. Politico‘s Jake Sherman described Boehner’s remarks as a “continuous battering of the president’s advisers, policies and legacy” and “an attack strategy that is thus far short on Republican vision and long on bashing Democrats.”
Yesterday offered Boehner a real chance — with the spotlight to himself, he could prove he’s capable of seriousness; capable of presenting a coherent policy agenda; capable of getting past tired cliches and talking points, and demonstrating a real grasp of substantive policy. It was, then, a missed opportunity for a man who clearly isn’t ready to lead.