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Bashing Boehner: Game on

Can President Obama convince America that John Boehner is bad for America?

It escaped no one's notice this week that the president is suddenly running against the putative speaker of the House. And let's face it: he badly needs an opponent.

(By the way, who was that fired-up guy in shirtsleeves in Ohio and Wisconsin this week? The Obama of 2008 seemed to be back, leaving some Democrats wondering why he put his passion in a blind trust these past 19 months.)

Now there's one flaw in the plan: I bet the number of Americans who know who Boehner is is smaller than the number who know Obama is a Christian.

In short, Boehner is no Newt Gingrich. (Or even Nancy Pelosi, the right's favorite pinata.) He's a low-key man with a perpetual tan and a fondness for the word "no." Turning him into a bogeyman isn't going to be easy.

Also, I hope Mitch McConnell isn't offended.

Some have argued that the POTUS is "punching down" by going after the Ohio congressman. But Obama faces a difficult media narrative. He has been running against public dissatisfaction, conservative opposition and liberal frustration with an anemic economy chained to his leg. His "Republicans drove the car into the ditch" wasn't resonating. Even his successes--such as health-care reform--had turned into liabilities.

By mentioning "Mr. Boehner" eight times in his Ohio speech, the president has given the media a new story line. Why does Boehner want to keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich, why is Boehner opposing business tax cuts, and on and on.

That also elevates the Ohio Republican for the inevitable pushback, but that's politics. Obama needs a foil.

The White House and the Democrats grumble that the GOP doesn't have much of a plan, that Republicans are merely running on the anti-Obama ticket. Which ought to be a familiar tactic, since the Dems ran on the anti-Bush ticket in 2006 and 2008.

If you hear the president keep on mentioning the minority leader, you'll know the White House thinks the Boehner plan is working. Maybe most Americans will even learn how to pronounce his name.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum says the frequent mentions of Boehner in Ohio "suggests something interesting: was this just because Boehner is a local boy who happened to have given a speech in Cleveland a few weeks before? Or is this part of a broader strategy to nationalize the election around Boehner's neck? I don't think this would change the course of the election or anything, but if it's the latter I'll bet it's a good idea.

"Boehner is well tanned and has a great TV voice, but he comes across (to me, anyway) as robotic and evasive, sort of a junior grade Mitt Romney. If Democrats put Boehner front and center ('Do you trust this man to be Speaker of the House?') it might damage the Republican brand a bit. He's not their best spokesman...

"Given the de facto parliamentarization1 of our political system, making sure the public knows who the opposition leader is might be better politics than in the past."

At NBC's First Read, Chuck Todd and friends say:

"The question has now become: Why elevate Boehner? A reasonable response: Why not? As our own NBC/WSJ poll showed, nearly six in 10 respondents believe that Republicans will have different economic ideas than Bush's if they take control of Congress. So Democrats might as well define Boehner. What else do they have to run on at this point? The White House needs an opponent. Our poll shows Bush might not be an effective opponent anymore, so they need someone they can run against."

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter says Obama should challenge Boehner to a series of debates. Yes, really.

And what would Speaker Boehner do?

"Republicans recognize they won't be able to do any broad governing even if they take back the House; they'd hold just one chamber of Congress, or at most one branch of government, if they also win the Senate," says Politico. "So officials familiar with the early discussions say they've centered on undoing key parts of the Obama agenda and repositioning Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility heading into 2012 -- a mantle the GOP surrendered during the big-spending George W. Bush years.

"The plans presently under discussion include defunding some parts of the new health care law and delaying implementation of others, withholding some of the unspent stimulus funds and using the oversight power of Republican-led committees to investigate the Obama administration."

They could certainly gear up the investigative machinery, but for everything else, it takes two-thirds to override a veto.

Footnote: Boehner will be on with Bob Schieffer Sunday on "Face the Nation."

By Howard Kurtz  |  September 10, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Latest stories , Top story  
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Comments

Obama can't go to the American people and tout his "accomplishments" because his idea of accomplishment is to enslave the people. So, like the demagogue tyrant Obama is, he resorts to attacking Boehner. Keep it up Obama and remind people daily that your "change" mantra was just another fraud by a slick radical Marxist politician. November is coming fast and your agenda is going down in flames, you tyrant.

Posted by: PACIFICENV | September 10, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats are simply asking voters, would you rather have Pelosi or Boehner for Speaker of the House? It's a legitimate question, regardless of where one is on the political spectrum.

Given that Republicans have been trying to run against the Pelosi bogeywoman this year, it's only logical that Democrats (including the President, on their behalf) should run against what kind of Speaker of the House her counterpart Boehner might be should the GOP gain a majority in the House.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | September 10, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Enslave the people?? How??

Posted by: MichelleKinPA | September 10, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"So, like the demagogue tyrant Obama is, he resorts to attacking Boehner." PACIFICENV

I'm sorry, who's the demagogue here? You resort to name calling and lies and for what? So John Boehner can run this country into the ground? No, thanks. We don't want Boehner or Cantor calling the shots. And I'll refrain from calling them names or making up lies.

Posted by: tfburke19 | September 10, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dem Senate advantage 59/41 ,Biden breaks ties
Dem House advantage 253/178
Dem White House don't need Boehner for anything and if they aren't passing helpful legislation it is solely their fault.
Obama vacations , golfs and holds gala parties, grandstands and lies in speeches from his prompter instead of working.
Anyone dumb enough to listen to his B.S. probably prefers cartoons.

Posted by: rfpzzzzz | September 10, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe that Mitch "Botox" McConnell will be offended that he's left out. He knows that his turn will come before the election.

As for the great ideas of the Republicans, what exactly will they do?

Will they cut Social Security for Seniors?

What about Medicare? Will Seniors loose that also?

And out Veterans? Caring for them can cost money. Will Republicans turn their back on them also?

Republicans have already promised to repeal health care reform, so children who finally got their insurance this month will have it taken away because of their pre-existing conditions. Just so the top tax folks can avoid paying the tax rate they should be paying.

Posted by: KHMJr | September 10, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The question should be.. is Obama good for America? Boehner is not the president (he is really irrelevant)

Posted by: johnrick | September 10, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The flacid, orange tinted "Boner" is a vapid, duplicitous Drunk. Seeing him debate President Obama would be worthy of Pay For View. Since it would be a 9PM televised event, Boner would arrive hammered from his daily 4 hour "Happy Hour". Listening to his slurred responses, with the possibility of him passing out, would be priceless.

Posted by: shiva7 | September 10, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

PACIFICENV

Enslave the people?

Moron.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | September 10, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I would have done this months ago.

Posted by: huyle23 | September 10, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I like having Bay-ner around. Whenever Republicans try to be annoying by saying "Democrat Party," I can whip out my "Boner"... pronunciation.

Posted by: BSDetector | September 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Obama always bashes the Republicans and anyone who disagrees with him. No news here.

Posted by: 45upnorth | September 10, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"... Which ought to be a familiar tactic, since the Dems ran on the anti-Bush ticket in 2006 and 2008."
-----
Bush had no plan. He had no clue. What could the Dems have run against?

In the 8 years of record spending and deficits, all we got were wars, tax cuts, and NCLB to fund the testing companies.

Posted by: shhhhh | September 10, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I can't imagine what Boehner would say on Face the Nation. The only word he knows is no. At least when it comes to the Democrats or President Obama.
The only idea he has for the economy is to give more tax breaks to the top 1%. Pathetic.

Posted by: COLEBRACKETT | September 10, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Mr Obama, last I heard, you were an American President. As a lowly citizen, may I presume to recommend you actually accomplish something in the interest of you country, versus worring about a minority leader in Congress. You are the President, right?

Posted by: donchew1 | September 10, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse


Kurtz, You asked the most liberal, Obama apologists what they think of Obama bashing Boehner. Why not ask some centrist journalists, not journolistas.

Every week Obama finds another Republican, organization or pundit to vilify.

It's getting tiring and he's like the little boy who cried wolf. After a while nobody notices.

America needs a real leader with real vision, not an inexperienced, incompetent, politician.

Posted by: janet8 | September 10, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Obama should have gone on the offensive long ago against the GOP. Many of us realized back in 2006 that the long-term damage inflicted as a consequence of the then-GOP stranglehold on government would take years to undo. After the almost entirely GOP-induced 2008 crash, it was clear we were looking at something on the order of decades.

Obama has been insufficiently aggressive in punishing these clowns for the damage they've done. Because he didn't put the much-needed stake through their figurative hearts, they're rising again to feed on an already sickly patient (who will not be able to afford treatment after a few more years double-digit increases in health care costs).

Posted by: micron26 | September 10, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

It is about time the GOP be exposed for what they stand for "The Rich". The party of "NO" doesn't care about the "middle Class"...they will repeal Health Care Reform, eliminate Social Security, eliminate Medicare...to save the tax cuts for the Rich. America wake up!!!! They do not have a plan for you. Mr "Boner" is half stoned most of the time. His eyes are glossy and he slurs his words...be careful...he will change America and not in a good way. Democrats and Indpendents get out and vote in November...otherwise we are doomed.

Posted by: chefcher | September 10, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

There has never been a president of the United States who had such low standards as Obama. He is totally classless. Well, I guess you can take a black person out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of a black person. I keep thinking Obama, during these trips, is going to start rapping! Obama is a perfect examples of what's wrong with affirmative action. HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012!! HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT IN 2012!! DUMP OBAMA! HE'S TOXIC WASTE! WE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO BE SLAUGHTERED IF WE RUN OBAMA AGAIN! HILLARY WILL WIN IN 2012!!!!

Posted by: georges2 | September 10, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

BOEhner. I dont see any BAE.. or BAH....
Say it as it is spelled. It seems pretty straight forward phonetic to me. Please...

Posted by: fcobar | September 10, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Boehner who?

Posted by: NoWeCant | September 11, 2010 4:00 AM | Report abuse

How many times in a single broadcast hour does Rush Limbaugh invoke the name Nancy Pelosi? Too often to count. Even more than President Obama, Nancy Pelosi is the face the GOP has attaced to the "leftist-socialist-fascist-Marxist-communist-San Francisco" agenda.

So it beyond ridiculous for the Republicans to feign "shock and disappointment" that President Obama would "stoop" to focusing attention on poor little John Boehner.

If the GOP takes the House, this will be the guy running the Legislative branch. So it's a perfecly fair question to ask the American people to take a good hard look at this guy, and decide whether he's the one they want calling the legislative shots.

Obama knows as well as anyone that the more that Americans get to know Boehner, the less they will like him.

Between a charismatic, charming guy like Obama and a chain-smoking, alcoholic, orange spray-painted used car salesman, I'll put my money on the skinny black dude from Chicago.

Posted by: SkyBeaver | September 11, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Enslave? You've got to remember that a certain segment only uses histrionics - enslave, communist, socialist, take our guns, worst president, etc., etc. I'm pleased with the president.

Regardless of how this election turns out, history is going to be very kind to the policies that he's helped enact. And Americans fifty years from now will be astonished that people used to be denied health care coverage because they were ill. (I couldn't remember how to say his name either. Finally, I realized it simply rhymes with vainer.)

Posted by: Keesvan | September 11, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Boehner wanted and still wants to saddle the American taxpayer with the burden of the clenup in the gulf.

Typical Republican.

Greedy Old Perverts.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | September 11, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

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