In his first speech as Speaker of the House, John Boehner struck just the right tone, I thought. Though hardly a spellbinding orator, Boehner’s remarks were short and gracious, modest and at times elegant. He spoke about the power of ideas and the importance of fairness to the minority party. He also placed the job of the House within the framework of self-government, saying
The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.
Speaker Boehner appears to be, temperamentally at least, the antithesis of both his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, and Newt Gingrich, who saw himself as a world-historical figure.
That is appropriate for the times.
By the end of his tenure, what Boehner said today will be long forgotten. He will be judged on his record and that of the 112th Congress, as he should. But at the outset of this journey, Mr. Boehner struck the right notes in the right way. Plus, he didn’t cry.