A day before becoming the 61st speaker of the House (and the 15th Republican to hold the gavel), John Boehner strode into the speaker's main conference room to convene the first formal House GOP leadership meeting of the 112th Congress.
Unlike his colleagues, Boehner entered without his suit jacket; his heavily starched white shirt shone crisp in the sunlight scattering the shadows in the room. As lawmakers huddled around the rectangular table, a swarm of aides shouldered for space on the crowded perimeter.
"Welcome to the majority," the Ohio Republican beamed.
Obama Unveils New Economic Team
The Democrats' White Flight
The Over/Under on 2012
After the applause died down, Boehner told his leadership team to "be careful" and "pay attention" to the staff members stuffed into the room. With a hard glare, Boehner said that in the future he wanted to economize the staff presence. Before formally seeking a 5 percent reduction in all congressional staff budgets, he wanted a deeper cut among the hangers-on present when his team met to plot and execute its strategy.
If it sounds awfully fastidious and controlling from a man stuck in the opposition for the past four years--a man who might be expected to exult in his victory, throwing caution to the wind--it should. Boehner has planned this moment for years, and he is not going to blow his speakership on cathartic but pointless expressions of ideology (even if that is what some of the bomb-throwing freshmen have in mind).