A child, seated with a lawmaker in the front row of the chamber, started throwing a silent tantrum. He stood up and waved his arms up and down, then stormed down the aisle, eventually escorted out by his sister. Boehner remained unfazed.
Keeping his hands folded neatly on the podium, raising his left index finger to make points, Boehner pledged a "renewed focus on our Constitution" and, amidst this big moment, injected some humility by reciting the God's curse on Adam: "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
"The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people's House. This is their Congress. It's about them, not us," Boehner said. "What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves."
"A great deal of scar tissue has built up on both sides of the aisle: We cannot ignore that, nor should we.My belief has always been, we can disagree without being disagreeable," Boehner said.
In the most bipartisan moment of the day, Boehner was sworn in by the oldest and longest-serving member of the House, the 84-year old John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan (who was the only member not to stand when Pelosi and Boehner took the podium). Dingell ambled up to a small lectern and read the oath of office to Boehner.
And with Boehner's affirmation, the 112th Congress had begun.
Afterward, members gladhanded and made their way out of the chamber. Republicans were celebratory, but restrained. "We have to avoid celebrating too much when so many people are out of work," New York's Peter King, one of the biggest Republican firebrands on national security issues in particular, told me after Boehner's speech.
"It's always nice to go back in the majority, certainly nothing compares to the first time, 10 years ago, but this is a close second I guess," said a smiling Jeff Flake, when I asked him how this stacks up to other moments in his political career.
On his way out of the Speaker's Lobby that sits adjacent to the House floor, Dana Rohrabacher, the 12-term congressman from outside L.A., gave a shoulder pat to a new member, the Tea-Party-backed Allen West of Ft. Lauderdale.
"Sir, it's gonna be great," Rohrabacher told West. "We're gonna shake things up here."
"We got to. The people are counting on us," West replied.
"You got it."
And with so many handshakes, the transaction was complete.
Illustration credit: Alex Hoyt (with iPad Brushes)
Image/thumbnail credit: Getty Images