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A Good Start?

January 4, 2011

From the Wall St. Journal today, here’s a plan by John Boehner to give more power away in order to keep power. (I notice that Hot Air saw it as well.)  This is an interesting test of leadership.  Plenty of people come in saying they’ll do something new.  It’s the people that actually do that who are recognized as truly different.

Mr. Boehner now finds himself master of a Republican majority created by a group of newcomers whose hallmark is a restless cry for action. On issues from cutting spending to raising the government’s debt ceiling, Mr. Boehner’s burden will be letting his freshmen members vent while keeping the House on track.

The article talks a lot about giving more people voice, and keeping things in the light by recording committee sessions.  It’s a positive start, and letting the people outside the beltway see what’s going on will likely mean that people are both more interested and more repulsed by what’s going on in Washington.

One of Wednesday’s first votes could be Mr. Boehner’s package of rule changes. Among them:

• Lawmakers will be required to vote on whether or not to raise the federal debt ceiling, a move sought by tea-party representatives. Current rules let the House automatically raise the limit when they pass a budget.

• All legislation must be posted online 72 hours before going to the House floor to prevent party leaders from changing bills the night before House votes, as has been the practice over the years.

The 72 hour rule was something that the administration and congress promised in the last session, and then they rammed through a variety of bills for signature because of the “urgency” of the moment.  In a similar manner, the PayGo rules were often tossed aside due to emergencies.  It’s a lesson to leaders that you have to actually pay attention to the rules you pass.  The leader is not above the rules, and when the leader tries to explain away any variances, it just makes the person look weak.

There are a variety of examples in the article that discuss his leadership style.  He prefers to act in a quiet manner, and he appears to pull in rivals rather than holding them at bay.  Both of these, and the other examples, seem to show a person who is interestsed in leading by example, and perhaps leading from the front of the line.

The first test will be to see if the rules stick in the House through the session.  Beyond that, there will be plenty of trials for Mr. Boehner, and whether he becomes a truly good leader or not, we’ll have examples to discuss.

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