Speaker Boehner’s first day of work liveblog

The House has made the Ohio Republican its leader. Let's all watch him cry

Topics: U.S. House of Representatives, War Room, 2010 Elections, John Boehner, R-Ohio, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,

Speaker Boehner's first day of work liveblog

4:00 “This rules packages gives us an opportunity to do exactly what President Lincoln wanted.” — Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on the hilarious new “cut as you go” rule, which is such a brilliant example of something that sounds nice but doesn’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny that I honestly admire the people who came up with it.

3:00 The first real thing Boehner’s House is doing: Stripping non-voting delegates of their votes in the Committee of the Whole. Sorry, Eleanor Holmes Norton. You may represent more American voters than both of Wyoming’s Senators, but the Republicans hate democracy.

2:30 Boehner just banged the huge comedy gavel! That was probably the highlight of his life. Now the party conferences announce the officers. Jeb Hensarling announces that Eric Cantor is the new Majority Leader. John Larson says Nancy Pelosi is Minority Leader. Voice vote on a resolution naming the clerk and chaplain and sergeant at arms. Then swearing them in. Being the speaker of the House now seems like the most boring job in the world. And frankly I’m baffled — Boehner’s been the speaker for like twenty minutes but the deficit is still the same size! Where are the jobs?!?

2:20 Boehner wraps up his fairly anodyne speech by explaining that America is “an idea,” and the House is “the People’s House,” and it is time for everyone to get together and be nice and do what the people want. Oath of office time! John Dingell administers it, just as he did for Speaker Gingrich 16 years ago. After tearing up as he first reached the chair, Boehner held in the tears for his address and his oath. Now, more milling around! Everyone on MSNBC is so proud of our Congress, for being full of friendly people who like each other.

2:10 A ridiculous number of Congress members escorted John Boehner to the speaker’s chair, where he immediately began crying. Nancy Pelosi delivered her goodbye address and made way for Speaker Boehner, who immediately took out his handkerchief to dab his eyes. Then he dried up and began his speech. Ten of Boehner’s 11 brothers and sisters are here, though one of them couldn’t make it. Mitch McConnell stopped by. Reminding us that he’s Catholic. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” Boehner says. Kind of dark! Then the buzzwords: transparency, accountability, Constitution. Huge applause for “cutting Congress’ own budget.” Yay firing our own staffs!

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Boehner also promises to be fair to the minority party, allowing open debates and amendment processes, which is of course a lie, because every majority party uses every legislative tool at its disposal to shut out the opposition.

1:15 There are few things in this world that are more boring than a House roll call vote, though one of those things is a House roll call vote with a predetermined result. There were a lot of children milling around the House of Representatives as they made John Boehner the new speaker. To witness the history, I guess, because who wouldn’t want to be there as America’s weepingest speaker is elected. A couple annoying conservative Democrats cast protest votes for North Carolina Blue Dog Heath Shuler, who ran against Pelosi for Minority Leader last November and lost humiliatingly. (And even if he had won the job, the Democrats would’ve probably replaced him with Gus Frerotte halfway through the session.) One voted “present,” because he’s so mad at Nancy Pelosi but he understands that Heath Shuler is a ridiculous character. John Lewis got two votes for speaker, for some reason.

On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell explained that keeping Pelosi as a leader was a terrible choice that enraged many Democrats, by which I assume she means the 43 members who voted against her when it actually counted. But the “Democrats in disarray” story is an entertaining one.

The Pledge to America Facebook discussion is full of weird references to ACORN and FEMA camps and name-calling.

Alex Pareene
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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