After Speaker John A. Boehner’s stunning decision on Friday to step down, the question now becomes: Who can lead this unruly bunch?
Despite criticism of Mr. Boehner for being a “squish” or a Republican-in-name-only, he was actually a strong conservative with the two-decade voting record and beliefs to match. He was also a veteran negotiator and someone who knew how Washington worked and wanted to keep it working as much on Republican terms as possible given a Democratic White House and for a time, a Democratic Senate.
And he succeeded to some degree in cutting spending and eliminating the costly earmarks he despised.
But his years in Washington and his resistance to putting government in turmoil to win potentially unwinnable policy fights may have been his biggest sin to conservatives inside and outside the House who wanted to push their views to the limit. Those same conservatives have had a notable influence on the Republican presidential primary, helping liftoutsiders like Donald J. Trump and Carly Fiorina to the fore.