Speaker John Boehner's resignation seems to be largely a ploy to avoid yet another government shutdown under his watch. This is Boehner trying not to repeat history: After the shutdown in 2013, Boehner candidly admitted to Jay Leno, the former host of The Tonight Show, that Republicans were to blame for the "predictable disaster."
Boehner said, back in January 2014:
I told my colleagues in July, I didn't think shutting down the government over Obamacare would work because the president said, "I'm not going to negotiate." So I told them in August, probably not a good idea. I told them in early September. But when you have my job, there's something you have to learn: When I looked up, I saw my colleagues going this way — and you learn that a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk. So I said, you want to fight this fight, I'll go fight the fight with you. But it was a very predictable disaster.
Now that there's talk about shutting down the federal government over Planned Parenthood funding, it's very likely that Boehner saw the same predictable disaster unfolding in front of him. And trying to avoid that disaster, once again, could lead House Republicans to revolt against Boehner — causing what his spokesperson called "prolonged leadership turmoil" that "would do irreparable damage to the institution." So Boehner opted to step down instead.
John Boehner never seemed enamored of his job
It's no secret Boehner wasn't exactly charmed with his job as speaker. In another part of the Leno interview, Boehner said:
I have eleven brothers and sisters, and my dad owned a bar. And I tell people all the skills I need to do my job I learned growing up. I grew up in a big family — you have to learn to get along with each other, get things done together, get things done as a family. You grow up around a bar — I mop floors, did dishes, waited tables, tended bar. You have to learn to deal with every jackass that walks in the door. Trust me, I need all the skills I learned growing up to do my job.
You can just feel the resentment Boehner had toward his colleagues during this time — they had led him into what he always thought was a disaster, repeatedly ignoring his warnings. And, by and large, the American public blamed Republicans for the mess. So it's no surprise that Boehner seemingly did everything he could to avoid the same outcome this time around, even giving up his job.