Sunday, February 05, 2006

# Posted 11:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE FORGOTTEN TRUTH ABOUT JOHN BOEHNER: In his first substantive comment on the election of a new Majority Leader, Josh Marshall writes:
Let's not forget that Boehner is the guy who got a black eye back in the mid-90s for handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists on the floor of the House. And of the three guys running for the job he had the most former staffers working on K Street.
But who exactly is doing all this forgetting that Josh is worried about? Perhaps it is the mainstream media, which Josh recently tongue-lashed for its habit of cowering before conservative accusations of media bias. Or perhaps not, since Josh doesn't say.

Nonetheless, it might be instructive to compare Josh's first comment about Boehner with the brief segment NBC Nightly News (video here) ran on Boehner after his election last Thursday. Here's a transcript, courtesy of my iPod:
CAMPBELL SCOTT [sitting in for Brian Williams]: Also on Capitol Hill today, Republicans chose a new Majority Leader, a replacement for Texas Republican Tom DeLay, who had to give up his post when he was indicted on campaign finance charges last year. NBC's Chip Reid joins me now on what turned out to be a big upset. Chip?

CHIP REID: Good evening, Campbell. Well, House Republicans had a choice today, they could either go with the status quo and choose congressman Roy Blunt, a man with very close ties to Tom DeLay, as their new leader, or they could vote for change. In the end they went with change, but not very much change.

John Boehner after all, is a longtime Washington insider, with deep ties to some powerful lobbying interests. He once had to apologize for handing out checks from tobacco companies to his colleagues on the House floor. In the 1990s, he was a top deputy to Speaker Newt Gingrich. But Boehner does have a record as a reformer on some issues, especially pork barrel spending.

[Boehner on film]: I think what you're going to see us do is rededicate ourselves to dealing with issues, big issues, that the American people expect us to deal with.

CHIP REID: Boehner's supporters say that today's election sends a message, that by choosing Boehner and rejecting Tom DeLay's hand-picked successor, Republicans are distancing themselves from DeLay's legal problems and from the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Now Boehner's supporters said today that he is a fresh face but Democrats replied that he is just more of the same.
Hmmm. I didn't see too much cowering in that report. And given that I listen to the Nightly News almost every morning on my iPod, I can assure you that this critical approach is typical for NBC -- which, given its audience of about 10 million per evening, is about as mainstream as the media gets.

Now, I'm not saying that NBC's interpretation of the Boehner vote was either unfair or inaccurate. But it was very much an interpretation, since there are many other aspects of the story that could've been covered in the minute and a half NBC gave over to the subject. And yet, NBC decided to cover precisely those aspects of the story that Josh Marshall considered most relevant. Some cowering.

The funny thing is, I share Josh's prescription for how to evaluate what Boehner does as Majority Leader: "Put the man to his test." If he says is a reformer and a man of principle, then he should prove it by cleaning up the corruption that has eviscerated the integrity of the GOP delegation in Congress. I think Boehner means what he says, but still, I'm not holding my breath.
(3) opinions -- Add your opinion

Denny Hastert is getting close to retirement. I think when Tom DeLay comes back they should make him Speaker, keeping Boehner as Majority Leader. (Let's face it, they're all great guys who deliver the goods, which is why NBC and Marshall lose no opportunity to smear them.)
I'd love to see some scrutiny of the Dems on this issue -- start with third generation SF machine candidate Pelosi, continue with the NJ and Mass delegatons, and finish up with impeached bribe taker Alcee Hastings and some of the other more creatively financed members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
At least he has a funny sounding name. We can watch all the talking heads carefully pronounce it. You can't have DeLay without a Boehner. Party ship anyone...?
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