Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Boehner Accelerates Retirement, But Had a Good Run

John Boehner
Speaker of the House John Boehner decided to speed up his retirement in the face of growing chaos in the House Republican caucus, but he will still have served longer than Nancy Pelosi (18th longest serving) and Newt Gingrich (19th longest serving) and be the 12th longest serving speaker out of fifty-two. Boehner nearly made it five years (1,756 days as of the end of October and his retirement) compared to Pelosi, 1,457 days or just under four years.

The longest serving speakers were in the post WWII era as Democrats maintained a near monopoly on control of the House.

1. Sam Rayburn, D, more than 17 years
2. Tip O’Neill, D, nearly 10 years
3. John McCormack, D, nearly 9 years
4. Dennis Hastert, R, nearly 8 years
7. Carl Albert, D, nearly 6 years
9. Tom Foley, D, more than 5 and a half years

In the current anti-Washington political environment, Boehner may keep the record, even if the Republicans hold the House majority for a decade or more.

Boehner is only the latest casualty of the Tea Party disruption that was first visible in the 2010 U.S. Senate primary when long-term Utah Senator Bob Bennett was beaten, Indiana’s Senator Richard Lugar was defeated in 2012 and the primary lose in 2014 of U.S. Representative Eric Cantor. It was Cantor’s loss that kept Boehner on the job for another term.

And, of course, frontrunner Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina highlight the current lack of affection for the Republican establishment in the presidential race.

The longstanding disapproval of Washington, which was featured in The Buzz on September 1 (Why an Outsider May be President), was confirmed by the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which reported 72 percent of Republican primary voters were dissatisfied with John Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to accomplish GOP goals.  Thirty-six percent said they wanted them removed from power. Talk show listeners, Tea Party supporters and Trump supports were the most in favor of immediate removal.

It is unlikely this internal war is going away very soon. The next speaker will face the same challenges of how to reconcile the view that winning the presidency and holding the senate requires showing the ability to govern versus the view that standing on principles regardless of the consequences; i.e., shutdowns, is the way to govern and win elections.

NBC News: Poll: 72% of GOP voters dissatisfied with Boehner, McConnell
New York Times: Boehner’s exit, the role of red states and the outlook for 2016
FiveThirtyEight: John Boehner had a good run

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