House Speaker John Boehner walked into his his Friday press conference singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.
He stood at the same lectern he had so many times before, when a government shutdown was looming or an abortion bill had been pulled off of the floor. Only, this time, Boehner didn’t need to pontificate or predict what his conference might do. This time, the press conference was about his peace in resigning from an institution he served for nearly 25 years.
Boehner told reporters Friday that after meeting Pope Francis, he spoke with his chief of staff about resigning. He was told to sleep on it. On Friday morning he went about his routine. He got Starbucks, stopped by Pete’s Diner and read the news. Then, he decided it was time.
“I got plenty of people following me but this turmoil that has been churning now for a couple of months is not good for the members and it is not good for the institution,” Boehner said, referring to calls to oust the speaker if he does not use a government funding fight to defund Planned Parenthood.
Boehner broke the news to his staff. Then, he told an unbelieving Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy just minutes before he broke the news to the entire conference.
Boehner resisted the notion that the pope had ultimately forced him to the decision, but it was hard to understand what had changed if not for that visit. Boehner got choked up as he explained the moment the pope grabbed his arm Thursday and asked Boehner to pray for him.