Speaker John Boehner's press conference announcing his now pending resignation as Speaker at the end of October was a surreal mixture of cheeriness, candor and subterfuge.
It was odd to have a politician who is third in line to succeed the President sing "Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah" from Disney's Song of the South (1946) at a somber moment as he contemplates his post-speakership future. This may to be project a sunny confidence to himself and the public. Yet it is not the first time that Mr. Boehner has sung Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah in the face of hard questions. Perhaps he likes to see Mr. Bluebird on his shoulder.
Speaker Boehner showed some candor when speaking about stepping down from the Speakership. Mr. Boehner revealed that he intended to do so at the end of the 113th Congress, but events during the summer of 2014 changed plans. What that meant was that Speaker Boehner's hand picked successor to the Speaker's gavel, then Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA 7th) lost a primary challenge to a small college economist professor now Congressman David Brat (R-VA 7th). Seeing the House in turmoil, Speaker Boehner decided to continue on in the big chair.
Yet it strains credulity that Mr. Boeher's decision was spur of the moment. During the parade of cable coverage of Pope Francis' visit to Washington, a political commentator opined that the culmination Mr. Boehner's tenure as Speaker was to greet the Pope in the Capitol so why not just drop the mike afterwards and proclaim "I'm outta' here". Was it prescience or planted pontification by the pundit?
How convenient that the day after the Pope's visit to DC on a dead news day in Washington that Mr. Boehner just decides "I'm gonna' do it." Sure.
Speaker Boehner's remarks on resigning glossed over the real reason why he was vacating his chair. Mainly because he no longer had the votes within the Republican Caucus to retain power if Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC 11th) actually filed the Motion to Vacate the Chair, which is a privileged motion for the full House to vote on leadership. It became crystal clear to Mr. Boehner that he did not have the votes to win by a party line vote.
Republican Establishment politicians in the House loyal to Speaker Boehner, like Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA 22nd) began to attack to the Freedom Caucus as "Pelosi Republicans", which was an odd turn of phrase, as Boehner would have needed to rely upon the graces of Democrat Minority Leader to engineer a victory for Speaker Boehner (by having some members vote for retaining Boehner as Speaker or merely vote present).
One suspects that Mr. Boehner is being coy about his future plans. Maybe he does not want to give out his forwarding address to K Street at the present time. By stepping down instead of being voted out, his name may have more Marquis cache after the one year cooling off period to comply with the 2007 Lobbying Law ends.
Whether or not Speaker Boehner's resignation was planned or was spontaneous, this is no argument how it was received by conservatives. At the Value Voters Summit, which featured a cattle call of Republican Presidential aspirants, the one line which drew the loudest and most sustained applause was when Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced from the dais the news that Speaker Boehner was leaving office. The next scheduled speaker at the Values Voters Summit had to cancel, as Congressman Mark Meadows was a little busy after that news.