12 Dissents to Boehner's Reelection as Speaker Signal 'Turmoil and Division'; Pelosi's 19 Dissenting Dems in 2011 Ignored
95% of the House Republican caucus reelected John Boehner as Speaker of the House on Thursday, but the 12 dissenting Republicans attracted intense coverage in the New York Times, including a front-page story saying the vote foretold "turmoil and division" in the new Congress.
By contrast, there was only scattered coverage when 19 members of the Democratic caucus refused to support Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker in January 2011, after the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. (The cases aren't quite parallel, as Pelosi was certain to lose her role as Speaker of the House in the newly elected Republican-majority House of 2011, while Boehner was expected to retain his position as head of the Republican-majority House in 2013.)
The first line of a front-page report Friday by Jonathan Weisman, "Boehner Retains Speaker’s Post, But Dissidents Nip at His Heels," promised "turmoil" in the next Congress.
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio was narrowly re-elected speaker of the House on Thursday amid open dissent from conservatives on the House floor that signaled that the turmoil and division of the 112th Congress is likely to spill into the newly constituted 113th.
And Friday's report by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, "Liked but Not Feared, Boehner Keeps a Job Some Might Ask Why He Wants" claimed Boehner had "suffered...indignity."
After a tumultuous two years in which he struggled to maintain a grip on his fractious caucus, Mr. Boehner -- who won the unanimous backing of his party when he was first elected speaker in 2011 -- suffered the indignity of 12 Republican defections on the opening day of the 113th Congress. Nine cast their ballots for other people; two remained silent rather than vote, and one simply declared, “Present.”
For Mr. Boehner, 63, of Ohio, it was a warning shot from conservatives, a sobering reminder that while he may hold one of the most powerful jobs in Washington, his power is greatly diminished. His Republican ranks are thinner in the new Congress, and many of those who retired or were defeated are moderates who ordinarily backed him.
Micah Cohen at the FiveThirtyEight blog got into the act Friday morning, asking "Were the G.O.P. Votes Against Boehner a Historic Rejection?" The answer: Yes, though even Cohen noted casually in a middle paragraph that the Pelosi snub of 2011 actually resulted in more defections: "The most rebellious vote in recent years actually came on the minority side. At the start of the 112th Congress, just after Democrats had been shellacked in the 2010 midterm elections, 18 Democrats did not back Ms. Pelosi in a vote won by Mr. Boehner."
In contrast, Nancy Pelosi's struggles at the start of the 112th Congress, when 19 of her fellow Democrats refused to back her bid to retain her job as House Speaker, didn't find their way into any headlines. Boehner got two print headlines referencing his trouble.
Coverage of the Democrats' snub of Pelosi was relegated to paragraph 15 of David Herszenhorn's January 6, 2011 "Reporters Notebook" on Pelosi passing the Speaker's gavel to Boehner.
For Ms. Pelosi, the day officially marking the Democrats’ big defeat came with yet one more personal setback -- 19 of her fellow Democrats refused to vote for her as their party’s candidate for speaker, even though her defeat was a foregone conclusion.
Carl Hulse's front-page January 6, 2011 report had a casual reference in a single paragraph.