There were a number of standouts this week. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) gave an extraordinary performance recounting his trip to the Middle East. Bob Woodward sufficiently pulled back the curtain on the White House to cast it in a new and unfavorable light. Even Secretary of State John Kerry began the shift in policy on Syria and rebuked the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his vulgar anti-Semitic assertion that Zionism is a “crime against humanity.”
But this week the nod goes to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio). Only a month or so ago there was speculation that he was done for. Now, as the New York Times conceded, “While the frustrations of Congressional Democrats and Mr. Obama with Mr. Boehner are reaching a fever pitch, House Republicans could not be more pleased with their leader.” That will give him more leeway in negotiations to come, increasing whatever chance there is for tax reform and/or entitlement reform.
Moreover, with an assist from Woodward, the speaker was able to get a dual message out. First, the sequester was Obama’s idea and its impact was being exaggerated. Second, if you give the president more money from taxes he’ll spend it. It is not easy to upend the mainstream media narrative and/or the White House, but he did. And by offering the president leeway on executing the cuts he shifted some responnsibility back to the president. To top it off, the president conceded the sequester cuts will be incorporated into the continuing resolution, in essence removing the threat to shut down the government and handing the GOP a clear win.
In sum, Boehner kept his conference together and his message intact while helping to shift the coverage of the dispute in a way favorable to Republicans. Well done, Mr. Speaker.