Boehner Resignation Tied to Papal Visit?
In “What John Boehner told me the night before he said he was quitting,” WaPo’s Robert Costa reveals an emotional reaction by the Speaker to the papal visit to Congress.
Politico’s Jake Sherman and I stood there for an hour or so, steno pads in hand and trading stories, as we waited for Boehner to appear. We had heard rumors from several lawmakers that Boehner was mulling retirement and that, as a Catholic, he privately saw the pope’s congressional visit, which he had orchestrated, as a fitting denouement to his long political career.
Boehner moved a few steps over and closed his eyes for a moment, seeming to recall what it was like for him as Francis entered the Capitol. Boehner’s blue eyes grew moist and his voice shaky. He asked me to stand inches from him, in essence standing in for the pope as he re-created the scene, perhaps hoping to savor the rush of it again while the memory was fresh.
“The pope, he comes up the steps right there. He comes right here,” Boehner said, pointing down at my feet.
“Right here?” I asked. “Right here!” Boehner said, smiling. “Right here. When he gets here, there are all of these kids he is going to bless. And you know how I get.”
“You start crying?” I asked.
Boehner shot me a look, as if that was obvious.
“So. So, the pope puts his arm around my left arm,” he said as he pulled my arm up to his shoulder. Boehner was now fully committed to acting it out. “Hold on, hold on,” he said as I pulled my arm away. “Let me finish. The pope says to me, ‘Please pray for me.’ ”
“Please pray for me,” Boehner repeated as he dipped his head. “He said, ‘Please pray for me.’ ”
Boehner has been under siege from the moment he became Speaker, a grown-up trying to legislate with a caucus increasingly filled with amateurs who actually believed their extreme anti-government rhetoric. It’s really remarkable that he’s lasted as long as he has. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he saw his time with the pope as the apex of his career and an opportunity to go out on a high note.
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