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House Speaker John Boehner: Would resigning be a smart move?

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

(Read caption) House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington Tuesday, following a meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders to discuss the situation in Syria.

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Will House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio resign his leadership post in 2014?

That's what The Huffington Post is reporting this week. After speaking to four top former Boehner aides, two current aides, five former leadership aides close to Boehner's inner circle, and a GOP operative, The Huffington Post said Boehner will step down after the midterm election, frustrated by his hard-to-steer caucus.

Mr. Boehner himself has suggested the opposite, saying earlier this summer that he’ll be sticking around. But one former senior aide to Boehner told The Huffington Post: "I'd be surprised if he did" stay.

Assuming the report rings true, what would Boehner's political epitaph be? Is he a casualty of his party’s divide between tea party conservatives and more moderate members? Or has he, in his inability to build agreement around a slew of issues from Syria to immigration reform, furthered the ongoing intra-GOP feuding?

“John Boehner may or may not retire at the end of this term,” writes Ezra Klein of The Washington Post. “But Boehner does not want to go down as the guy who managed the two least-productive, least-popular congresses of all time, and whose greatest accomplishments were convincing his members not to shut down the government or breach the debt ceiling. According to the Huffington Post, before he retires, he wants at least one legacy-building accomplishment. He’ll even stay in Congress to get it.”

Some suggest Boehner has more to gain personally, in terms of his legacy, if he has decided to vacate the post – even if he doesn’t say as much publicly. That frees him from being beholden to the more strident wing of the GOP.

New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes that “a small minority of the most extreme Republicans have managed to keep Boehner on a leash by threatening to depose him as Speaker if he displeases them.”


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