Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

  • 8 January 2015
  • NormanL
Meet the new boss same as old John Boehner

John Boehner survived a mini-revolt and won a third term as Speaker of the House on Tuesday. As disappointing as that may be for some, there is little reason for Boehner and his allies to crow over their victory, because the last time a Speaker came so close to winning, the nation was on the verge of the greatest crisis in its history:

Boehner lost the votes of 25 House Republicans, marking the biggest defection in at least 100 years.

According to the book "Fighting for the Speakership," the last time this many members voted against a major-party's speaker nominee was 1860, when republicans">Republicans split their votes between two candidates: John Sherman of Ohio and Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania. Neither, though, was the incumbent speaker. Grow wound up winning.

That puts what happened Tuesday into some historical perspective.  But as history also teaches us, retribution can come swiftly:

After he secured his third term as speaker Tuesday afternoon, losing 25 votes on the House floor to some relatively unknown members of the Republican Conference, Boehner moved swiftly to boot two of the insurgents from the influential Rules Committee. That could be just the start of payback for the speaker’s betrayers, who might see subcommittee chairmanships and other perks fall away in the coming months.

We will follow this story as it unfolds and will pay very close attention to what Mr. Boehner and his allies do with their power. They say, repeatedly, that they want to show the nation Republicans can "govern." Fair enough.  But if the GOP version of governing turns out to be little more than Democrat-lite, the party's majority status -- and Mr. Boehner's speakership -- will be short lived, indeed