John Boehner was voted in as Speaker of the House today, not that this surprises anyone.
He took hold of the massive gavel/mallet from Nancy Pelosi, who seemed to take joy in the fact that it was “larger than most gavels” in the room, in an oddly awkward exchange that climaxed at a slip by Pelosi who called Boehner “Mr…Speaker Boehner” (which, of course, prompted an even more awkward bout of laughter from the House), and ended with a bizarre series of odd physical exchanges.
If you don’t want to watch the 2-ish minutes of awkwardness, this picture from CQ/Roll Call should probably sum it up for you:
The day was made even more awkward when 19 Democrats chose not to vote for their fallen House leader, Pelosi. This vote was particularly telling, since votes against congressional leaders for the position in the recent past have never broken double digits. Compared to those numbers, 19 seems to point to some serious doubts in the minds of Democrats that Pelosi’s continued leadership would mean good things for their recently “shellacked” party.
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer Boehner told Howard Wilkinson that he thought the G.O.P. needed to live up to the “Pledge to America,” a series of promises released to the American people before the midterm elections. “A lot of people are watching us,” He said. “We have to deliver on what we promised.”
But what did they promise? Is it just a repetition of everything they’ve said before?
What do I mean by “repetition?” See Jon Stewart’s “Postcards From the Pledge,” for a full explanation.
You can decide for yourself, if you want. The full text of the pledge is here.
In any case, Boehner has high hopes for his term as Speaker. He dreams of comparison to a fellow Ohio Speaker, Nicholas Longworth, whose picture has adorned Boehner’s office wall for quite some time. Longworth, who has a House office building named after him, was a very effective politician. He was House Majority Leader in 1914 and became Speaker in 1925. While he reached across the aisle, he was also quick to use his power to reign in his own Republican Party. He began his term as Speaker by punishing 13 people who had supported Robert LaFollette instead of Calvin Coolidge in the presidential election of 1924, stripping them of all seniority.
Boehner started mentioning Longworth before he was even elected, which seems to make sense. Longworth was dedicated to the Republican Party, an effective leader and made the House extremely efficient. But, will we be seeing a Boehner House office building a few decades down the line? That’s up for bets.