Boehner and the rest of the GOP establishment assumed they could ride the Tea Party tide to power, and then co-opt that wing of the party, but that proved badly wrong. “Eric Cantor was the first casualty of the monster he helped build,” Ornstein says, referring to Boehner’s colleague and rival as House majority leader, who lost his seat to a primary challenge last year. “Boehner is the second. He won’t be the last.”

As Ornstein says, “This one also has a new blood versus old fart element, but it is much more a reflection of the radical shift inside the party, amplified by talk radio, blogs and social media.”

At the end of his news conference after the decision to step down on Friday, Boehner said, “I’m doing this today for the right reasons, and you know what? The right things will happen as a result.”

There is a poignant twist to Boehner’s downfall, as Pitney notes: “A lot of the young Turks resent Boehner as one of the old bulls, but he started off as one of the young Turks. It would have come as a shock in the early 1990s that people would one day regard John Boehner as a figure of the establishment.”