The Speaker speaks

“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. 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.

~Speaker of the House John Boehner, 112th Congress


NRO has the transcript but, at just 10 minutes or so, it’s worth watching if you can spare the time. Whether this is just Boehner being Boehner or whether he’s deliberately being low-key to signal a new era of modest government (in every sense of the word), it’s effective enough that even lefty Ezra Klein felt obliged to call it “as smart a speech as I’ve seen a politician give.” What strikes me about it is that in substance it sounds a lot like Obama circa 2008 on the trail — process reforms, new day in Washington, disagreeing without being disagreeable, etc — but in tone it’s the opposite of messianic. Klein, in fact, notes that Boehner responded to Republican applause at one point with, “It’s still just me.” Imagine that line coming from The One. The fact that a speech like this might accurately be said to have captured the political moment shows just how far we are from Inauguration Day 2009.

The takeaway line: “We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process ‘less efficient’ than our forefathers intended. These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them.”

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As usual the comments at HotAir are definitely worth reading. One reader links to an article in today’s London Telegraph:

The dark hair and olive skin comes from his mother.

INC on January 5, 2011 at 5:56 PM

H/T Ace of Spades where there are also some worthwhile readers’ comments.

UpdateAmerican Power had these links:

Kathryn Jean Lopez has the transript, “A Short Speech About Humility & Principle, Getting to Work.”

And at New York Times, “Boehner Takes Gavel in House With Pledge to Bring Change.”

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