The World Turned Upside Down

About two weeks ago, Speaker-to-be John Boehner found himself in an odd conversation with a young Republican House member. Their talk may rank as the most compelling example yet that the huge midterm GOP victory will produce real change in Washington—not just change in the familiar political sense, but down-the-rabbit-hole change, in which the world as we understand it seems to disappear.

Boehner was trying to “lure” Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah onto the Appropriations Committee. Yes, lure. The 43-year-old, first-term lawmaker was hesitating over appointment to the vaunted panel, long regarded as one of the best perches in all of Washington. For most House members, Appropriations is the summa of committee assignments. A seat on the panel brings power, prestige, and lobbyists’ cash. It’s earmark heaven, too.

Chaffetz said no.