Report: Speaker Boehner To Retire in 2014?

Posted: Sep 05, 2013 2:35 PM

That’s the rumor on Capitol Hill these days. After all, Mr. Boehner has been in Congress for more than two decades, and thus finally must be feeling the itch to let go of the reigns of power (via the Daily Beast):

In non-Syria news, HuffPo’s Ryan Grim and Jon Ward reported yesterday that some GOP Hill rats are now starting to say on background what most of us have been assuming for quite some time—that John Boehner won’t seek reelection in 2014 and thus will end his tenure as speaker.

If so, he will have lasted just four years, and, it must be said, a pretty crappy four years, when the House has passed almost no meaningful bills and when the most meaningful one it did pass, the sequester, is widely acknowledged to be a disaster and an admission of Congress’ inability to do its job. And remember, we still have, after the Syria vote, the looming government shutdown and the debt-limit fight coming this fall. A brief government shutdown and a credit default, while undesirable generally, would provide fitting capstones to a terrible tenure.

Now of course all this failure isn’t his fault. He’s got a lot of people in that caucus who weren’t elected to govern, but to burn down. His length of tenure reflects this problem. As speaker, you have to make some sort of attempt to govern. That’s the gig. But when half or more of your caucus is against governing, well, they’re going to get mad at you and consider you a sell-out. As Grim and Ward point out, he won the speakership last time by just three votes.

Indeed, remember the doomed-from-the-start “Fire Boehner” campaign led by Republicans earlier this year that “nearly” cost him the Speakership? No doubt conservatives are unhappy with his tenure and see him as a traitor to The Cause. But, in fairness, his caucus is deeply divided: Tea Partiers, libertarians, and moderates are all vying for power and influence. And Boehner, for his part, has been haplessly stuck in the middle of it all, taking much of the blame for overseeing what some are describing as the most ineffectual congress in modern history. I don’t envy him. The Speakership in many ways strikes me as a thankless position -- a job I suspect even the most opportunistic and excessively ambitious pol has little interest in. Bottom line: Since I can’t imagine Boehner’s weighing a run for higher national office, if he does retire, I fully expect him to hang up his gavel and head back to Ohio for good. We’ll see what he decides.

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