Boehner’s set to speak at a press conference at 1 p.m. ET. Feel free to use this as your open thread to comment if you’re watching. I mentioned the standing O at the Values Voter Summit in the other thread but the video merits posting, purely as an indulgence of the Boehner schadenfreude that’s sweeping conservative America today.
Everyone feelin’ good out there? Well, don’t read this, then. Ultimate buzzkill.
Boehner moved a few steps over and closed his eyes for a moment, seeming to recall what it was like for him as Pope Francis entered the Capitol. His blue eyes grew moist and his voice shaky. He asked me to stand inches from him, in essence standing in for Pope Francis as he recreated the scene, perhaps hoping to savor the rush of it all again while the memory was fresh…
“The pope, he comes up the steps right there. He comes right here,” Boehner said, pointing down at my feet. “Right here? I asked. “Right here!” Boehner said, smiling. “Right here. When he gets here, there are all of these kids he is going to bless. And you know how I get.”…
“So. So, the pope puts his arm around my left arm,” Boehner said as he pulls my arm up to his shoulder. Boehner was now fully committed to acting it out. “Hold on, hold on,” he said as I pulled my arm away. “Let me finish. The pope says to me, ‘Please pray for me.’”
“Please pray for me,” Boehner said as he dipped his head. “He said, ‘Please pray for me.’”
Now I feel bad. So do a lot of commentators, from big-media types like Chris Cillizza who see today’s announcement as an act of selflessness to prevent a Republican civil war to grassroots conservatives Joel Pollak who mourn the fact that a well-meaning wheeler-dealer like Boehner was simply overmatched by political forces in the age of Obama. Boehner’s dilemma as Speaker was simple yet enormously challenging: His caucus consists of what now are essentially two different parties that happen to overlap on some matters like taxes. Once both of those parties had acquired enough representatives inside the GOP caucus to be able to deny Boehner a majority on any hot-button bill, he was destined to disappoint one or the other consistently — and we know which one was disappointed most often. Things would have been different (maybe not a lot different but a little) with a Republican majority in the Senate and no filibuster to give Democrats leverage. In that case, Boehner could have made more concessions to House conservatives without fear that the resulting bill would be torpedoed by Harry Reid in the other chamber. But we don’t live in a world without a filibuster — yet. In fact, Boehner spent less than nine months of his five-year Speakership with a GOP majority in the Senate. Between the strength of Democratic opposition and Obama’s veto always hanging overhead, he didn’t have many levers to pull to achieve lasting conservative victories.
I’ll bet he regrets not doing a grand bargain with Obama on entitlements when he had the chance, though. Here’s the announcement today from the podium at the Values Voter Summit by Marco Rubio, who, being a very good retail politician, instantly segues from the news about Boehner to calling for Republicans to turn the page to a new generation of leaders, which, coincidentally, happens to be the core theme of his own presidential campaign.