Newsweek's lame attempt to spin John Boehner as a pragmatist

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

In support of the premise that as Speaker of the House, John Boehner might prove willing and able to work with President Obama and Democrats, Newsweek offers several examples of Boehner's preference for getting things done in a bipartisan fashion -- every one of which consists of Boehner working to enact George W. Bush's agenda.

To substantiate its picture of Boehner as "businesslike" pragmatist, Newsweek touts the "revealing … transformation Boehner underwent between 1991, when he arrived on the Hill, and 2001, when he helped pass No Child Left Behind. … The early Boehner was a small-government bomb thrower, not unlike today's Tea Partiers."

If Newsweek wants people to believe that Boehner underwent a 1990s transformation into a bipartisan pragmatist, it probably should have included an example of two of Boehner working with the Democrat who was president for the last eight years of the decade. But Newsweek doesn't do that. Instead, Newsweek's evidence that Boehner has mellowed is that he worked to enact George W. Bush's agenda. Because if there's anything that says "bipartisan pragmatist," it's a Republican congressional leader working to do George W. Bush's bidding.

And that's the entirety of Newsweek's evidence that Boehner will work with a Democratic president: The fact that he worked with a Republican president. Hilariously, Newsweek eventually acknowledges this disconnect and tries to spin it away:

Yes, Bush was a Republican and Obama is a Democrat—meaning that Boehner will be far less acquiescent than he was the last time Republicans ruled the House. But GOP speakers have worked with Democratic presidents before and gotten results. In the mid-1990s, for example, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich ...

So, as evidence that Boehner will work with Obama, Newsweek points to examples of Newt Gingrich working with Bill Clinton. Not John Boehner -- Newt Gingrich. If Boehner really underwent a transformation in the 1990s, Newsweek should have been able to provide some late-1990s examples of Boehner working with Clinton. In fact, if such a transformation really occurred, Newsweek should be able to provide some recent examples of Boehner working with President Obama.

I'll give Newsweek this much: it takes an impressive level of confidence to try to convince readers that because a Republican congressional leader cooperated with a Republican president, that means he has transformed from bomb-throwing ideologue into bipartisan pragmatist. It might have worked, too, if only Newsweek had been able to come up with a single example of Boehner working with either of the Democratic presidents who have held office during his time in Congress.

Network/Outlet
Newsweek
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