Speaker John Boehner, who plans to leave office a day before Halloween, told a group of Republican colleagues last week he had an awful nightmare. “I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn’t get out,” the Ohio Republican joked, according to one of his longtime friends, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). “And a hand came reaching, pulling me.”
Ordinarily, a Quote of the Day comes from the specific day in which it's honored, but today's Quote of the Day was uttered last week. We just didn't know how important it was until now.
Welcome, John Boehner, to your own personal nightmare.
At this point, there's a group of people who want to be Speaker of the House, but they don't have the support. There's another group that may have the support, but they don't want the job.
And that leaves the current Speaker "trying to get out," but discovering that he can't. The plan, obviously, was to have an intra-party election today, when House Republicans were supposed to rally behind Boehner's chosen successor, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). That would be followed by an Oct. 29 floor vote, and Boehner's resignation from Congress a day later.
That plan has now been thrown out the window. Indeed, the Ohio Republican issued a statement this afternoon saying he intends to stick around, indefinitely, until his replacement is elected.
“We will announce the date for this election at a later date, and I’m confident we will elect a new Speaker in the coming weeks," Boehner said.
And if they don't? Well, then things start to get a little messy.
The scenario that the Speaker probably hopes to avoid is the one that delays his retirement, but it's also the one that's beginning to play out right now. If there is no successor who can earn 218 votes, there is no exit strategy for Boehner.
Remember, Boehner hoped to retire after the last Congress, but he delayed his plans when the far-right ended Eric Cantor's career. Then he hoped to retire this month, before discovering that the far-right has derailed Kevin McCarthy's plans, too.
How big a pain have right-wing congressional Republicans been for Boehner? They're not even letting him quit when he wants to.