If the House Republicans’ Pledge to America showed that the leaders have not yet figured out how to accomodate a likely bolder freshman class, Boehner’s speech shows that at least some thought is being given to the fight ahead. It is thus all the more irritating that Boehner — and the House GOP generally — refuse to commit the party to a ban on earmarks. The divide-and-conquer logic is the same, as earmarks grease the skids for larger and even more odious pieces of legislation. Boehner’s speech acknowledges that voters see the House as a compromised institution. Boehner himself says he is against earmarks. In this environment, it would be a mistake for the House GOP to think it can shy away from an earmark ban with claims that other reforms — e.g., the proposed weekly spending cut votes — are an adequate substitute.