March 26, 2007


A Fresh Face Vows to Revive the G.O.P. (MICHAEL LUO, 3/26/07, NY Times)

Amid the sea of square jaws and swept-back gray hair in Congress, Representative Adam H. Putnam, a tousled redhead whose cherubic appearance still causes Capitol police to stop him occasionally, appears a bit out of place.

But Mr. Putnam, 32, a Florida Republican, has become the unlikely mouthpiece for the beleaguered minority in the House, taking over as chairman of the Republican Conference, the third-ranking post behind the minority leader and whip, as his party struggles to right itself.

Mr. Putnam, something of a political wunderkind who at 26 was one of the youngest members of Congress in decades when he was elected in 2000, has taken on the role of attack dog over the last three months.

Combining agility on the issues and controlled partisan outrage, he has helped lead Republicans in the debate over the war in Iraq, lambasted Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her use of a military jet to fly across country to her home district, and generally tried to eke out political points at every opportunity.

"I think in the minority, the challenge is to get noticed," Mr. Putnam said in an interview. "In a presidential election cycle, the novelty of a new Democratic majority, the historical nature of a woman speaker, it becomes very hard to be heard above all the noise."

His tactics, however, have earned him the enmity of the speaker's office, as well as others who accuse him of partisan showboating.

However? That's the point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2007 7:40 AM

Terms like "attack dog" and "partisan showboating", I wonder how often the NYTimes used these terms in describing the previous minority party in the Congress?

Posted by: pchuck at March 26, 2007 10:04 AM

My guess would be never.

Posted by: erp at March 26, 2007 10:57 AM

Good points. Funny how attacking the current Speaker causes such heartburn. I don't remember Hastert getting too upset (except when the FBI raided Jefferson's office, of course).

No (D) Speaker before Jim Wright got too riled over the complaints of the minority. Tip was angrier at the Dems who voted with Reagan.

But the bitterness in the House began when Tip seated the Dem from Indiana (in 1984), even though the state certified a GOP win.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 26, 2007 4:55 PM