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The speaker speaks

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 22, 2011; 8:25 PM

Seems House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been told by his press aides to stop chatting and answering questions with reporters or random visitors he doesn't know in the hallways in the Capitol.

Pretty good precaution against Boehner's saying something that could be blogged about, be taken out of context and cause a general ruckus.

So last week, during the frenzied days leading up to the House passage of the GOP budget-cut package, a somewhat apologetic Boehner would deflect approaching reporters in the halls by saying, "No, I can't talk, I can't talk."

Just after 9 p.m. Friday, on the eve of the final House vote, Boehner approached our colleague Paul Kane and Politico's John Bresnahan, who mocked him for his "can't talk" policy and then pointed out that they were not walking the hallways but rather standing in the speaker's lobby, just off the chamber floor.

Boehner looked around and saw the coast was indeed clear. No staff in sight. Thus began a 25-minute unplanned news conference eventually joined by at least 15 other reporters, during which the speaker stayed perfectly on message, never wavering.

He called the open debate process an example of "democracy in action" and said he was "proud of this vote." He talked about how "fascinating" things were going to be "over the next few weeks and months as we work our way through this," so on and so forth.

Boehner even offered clothing advice to several of the reporters. Then, perhaps channeling an old Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band song, Boehner explained one of his rules for success:

"The first rule of being successful is you have to look like you know what you're doing, so you failed," he said, joking with the reporters.

Reporters may soon be demonstrating in front of his office under a rallying cry: "Let the speaker speak!"

Voice of . . . somebody

Hackers, apparently Iranian, hit the Voice of America Web site on Monday afternoon, replacing pages with a statement saying in Persian and English, "We have proven that we can," and asking Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton if she wanted to "hear the voice of oppressed nations will from heart of USA" [sic].

The flag on the screen is that of the Islamic Republic of Iran, suggesting that the hacking came from that country or from supporters of the regime there.

"VOANews.com's primary domain, along with numerous related domains registered with Network Solutions, were hacked by an unknown party," the VOA said in a statement Tuesday. "This enabled the hacker to redirect VOA URLs to a site claiming to be run by a group called the 'Iranian Cyber Army.' "


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