The Corner

A Speaker ‘For the Children’ Hands the Gavel to an Adult

As usual, Nancy Pelosi stole the show — and reminded us why we are very, very glad that she is no longer Speaker of the House. Pelosi went on so long before giving the stage to John Boehner that surely I wasn’t the only person yearning to see a shepherd’s crook yank her off. The manic smile added a truly weird dimension. Is Nancy Pelosi really human?

“When I called the House to order for the first time,” Pelosi recalled, “I did so on behalf of America’s children.” Well, today Pelosi surrendered the gavel she wielded with such wanton disregard for the wishes of the public to an adult. I know it’s de rigueur for us Republicans to eat our own, but I thought Speaker Boehner came across just right: somber, gracious, but still able to make pointed remarks about the abysmal performance of the childishly willful 111th Congress.

He didn’t cry — I clutched a few times when I saw him using a handkerchief, but the dabbing occurred before he began to speak. (If he was going to cry, he probably lost the impulse as Pelosi went on and on and on.) Boehner said the right things: about cutting the government down to size, about the perilous state of the republic, etc. It appeared to me that several members looked awfully unhappy when Boehner said that the cost cutting would start with House expenses. And it was a nice touch when Boehner, who is a Catholic, recalled the ashes of Ash Wednesday, which symbolize the transitory nature of life and, by extension, of power. (Needless to say, the pro-choice Pelosi had already beaten him to the punch with mention that she is a Catholic.)

Unlike Pelosi — who seemed more like a victor taking a lap around Never Never Land than a politician who had just suffered a defeat of epic proportions — Boehner projected the sense that he knows that the country is in trouble and that House members must behave like adults in these serious times. The New York Times, by the way, greeted the 112th Congress with a childish editorial. But what did you expect?

Charlotte Hays is a senior fellow at Independent Women’s Forum.


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