The news of John Boehner’s announcement—that he’s stepping down as Speaker of the House of Representatives and resigning from Congress—is still reverberating a week later.
While most of the discussion about this move has focused on his successor, I’ve got a different take on the news. Mr. Boehner has launched himself into one of the most highly public career transitions possible.
For the last three decades, he has been a political leader, long in the limelight, with considerable connections and clout He’s got to be asking himself, “Who will John Boehner be now?” without the mantle of responsibility and the perquisites of power.
Is he looking forward to a traditional retirement with lots of leisure time and a respite from the intense pressures he faced as Speaker? Will he stay in the game on the sidelines, as a political consultant and/or commentator? Or will he try his hand at something completely different? At 65, he’s still young enough to move in any of a number of career directions, assuming he still wants to work.
Whatever path he chooses, he’ll have to adjust to a new identity. People will react to him differently now that he’s leaving Washington, and, perhaps more importantly, he’ll need to redefine how he views himself. For many powerful people making a profound change like he is, the redefinition process can be jarring.
Mr. Boehner and I share a birthday (November 17; different birth years) and we also share the ability to cry in front of other people without shame. Still, what I’m hoping for him is that his transition won’t involve any more tears.O