Both of them have that title, a title that connotes power. Both are Republicans just selected to preside in a new legislative session. Both thus have authority in rulings and recognition of legislators and in articulating the goals and agenda of the majority.
Yet, they are far different.
- Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, who presides over the Indiana House of Representatives.
Far different? Yes. And not just far in the sense of the distance from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C.
We hear a lot from and about Boehner, so often in the news for his partisan opposition to anything said or proposed by President Barack Obama. Despite his power, he cannot steer his contentious majority, now a smaller majority that needs to stick together to halt the plummeting to ever lower approval ratings.
We hear not so much so far from and about Bosma, so often conciliatory rather than inflammatory in references to a depleted Democratic minority. He has used his power to guide a supermajority, a majority so big it easily could break into warring factions to ruin high election-time popularity.
The difference was shown right away in Bosma's speech on opening day of the Indiana General Assembly. He called for bipartisanship. He talked of reaching out with "a spirit of working together" to solve problems.
Boehner, of course, likely would be out as speaker if he talked about reaching across the aisle in bipartisanship. Partisan political dogma there calls for an unwavering hate-thy-neighbor-across-the-aisle belief.
Bosma noted the presence at the opening session of a visiting Democratic congressman, Rep. Andre Carson of Indianapolis, and told a story of how an "odd couple" in the Indiana General Assembly once teamed up for significant legislation for the disabled.
Bosma noted accurately that Julia Carson was described as "an ultra-liberal, inner city Democrat" and his father was regarded as "an ultra-right-wing suburban, more like rural."
They didn't have much in common, he continued: "One white, one black. One Republican, one Democrat. One man, one woman. They didn't see eye-to-eye on very many issues, but they set those political differences aside and joined hands for the disabled. So much so that they became known as the 'odd couple.' "
Bosma challenged the Indiana legislators: "Where is the odd couple in this room that will set political differences aside and concentrate on (early childhood education for families) that cannot afford the same opportunities that most of us in this room enjoy?"
He called for some defender of administration policies on child protection and some harsh critic to be an "odd couple" working to make sure "every child under the care of the Department of Child Services is in a safe place."
An "odd couple" willing to reach across the aisle for flexibility for both teachers and school corporations.
An "odd couple" differing on social issues "but willing to set that aside and work together to find a way to get science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers in every classroom that wants them."
In a visit to The Tribune, Bosma expanded on the theme of working together on the big issues. Biggest of all, he said, is work force development. He noted that the unemployment rate remains too high even as job openings abound. Thus, he said, the state, working with local communities, must see that more workers become qualified to fill those vacancies.
On tax cuts -- source of such warfare in Washington -- he called for a common sense approach of waiting to see what April revenue forecasts show rather than battling now one way or the other in Indiana.
And while partisans in Washington fight to swing an agenda left or right on divisive issues, Bosma said he expects "no hard jerk left or right."
Bosma even urged members of the Hoosier congressional delegation to act as "peacemakers."
Boehner couldn't ask for peacemakers in Congress. One of the caucus beatitudes is: "Cursed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit a primary challenge."
Jack Colwell is a columnist for The Tribune. Write to him in care of The Tribune or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.