Thursday, February 02, 2006

Can Boehner Craft the Message AND Deliver It?

John Boehner (R-Ohio) was elected majority leader of the US House today in a somewhat surprise victory over Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Republicans are hailing Boehner's victory as a return to the days of Newt Gingrich, the majority leader before Tom Delay took over in 1998.

It will be interesting to see what Boehner can accomplish as majority leader if he really does try to mold himself as another Gingrich, which is how he sold himself in the race against Blunt. Part of what made Gingrich a powerful leader was his rhetoric. The "Contract with America" in 1994 helped to usher in a wave of Republican legislators, but in actual policy terms, Gingrich's leadership largely fell flat. In other words, Gingrich & Co. were strong on message, but weak on delivery.

What Delay brought in 1998 was someone who could deliver, although through his style of delivery the traditional conservative message--fiscal restraint, small government, etc.--was lost. Control and power were the names of the game in Delay's world, not traditional ideological conservativism. One look at legislation like the Medicare Part D bill, among others, Delay and friends strong-armed through congress will tell you that.

The Republicans still haven't been able to find someone who can craft the message and deliver it intact. I tend to doubt Boehner is the person to do it.

Paul Glastris of the Washington Monthly has a good article here that parallels the dichotomy between conservative message and delivery I discuss above.

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Side Note: I recently deleted my last post "The Real Outrage." While I discussed MPS in the post, the budget cuts referred to in the
Journal-Sentinel article I reference are from the Waukesha School District. Apparently the real outrage is, in fact, my inattentiveness to the article I'm referencing. My mistake. While I still think my points have merit, the post needs to be completely redone for accuracy. I may repost in a few days with the correct budget cut numbers for MPS.

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