Speaker Paul Ryan: Wiping the Slate Clean.

America has a new Speaker of the House of Representatives: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi hands the gavel to Speaker Paul Ryan. Photo courtesy chicagotribune.com

The 54th Speaker of the House–the first Speaker from the state of Wisconsin–succeeds former Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who is also resigning his seat at the end of the year. Ryan was officially elected this morning by House members and sworn in by the dean of the House, Rep. John Conyers.

I could say a lot about the way business is conducted in the House of Representatives, and about how Members sometimes conduct themselves–and very little of it would be good.

Still, I am proud to see the peaceful transfer of power, whether it’s for a new President of the United States or Speaker of the House. Our country’s politics is so far from perfect, but this is a much preferred method of resolving our political differences than other methods to settle political disputes. And it is good to see the Members act like human beings instead of combatants. I saw more examples of unity and pageantry than displayed for the State of the Union address.

Days like this remind me of the House of Representatives’ great potential to be more responsive to the needs of all Americans. We can always have hope.

For today, however, we have speeches, and some very good ones.

First, former Speaker John Boehner’s farewell speech. He had the tissue box at the ready, delivering a tearful and touching farewell address:

Courtesy Rep. Office of John Boehner

I leave with no regrets, no burdens. If anything, I leave the way I started: just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job. –Former Speaker John Boehner

Next, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. She praised the Former Speaker and introduced the new Speaker:

Courtesy CBSN

Today, in this House, a page is turned; a new chapter has begun. Today the gavel passes to a proud son of Wisconsin. –Democratic Leader Pelosi

Finally, Speaker Paul Ryan. His speech was clear, at times endearing and focused. It was a very effective way to re-introduce himself to the American public in his new role. (Recall that he was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.)

To me, the House of Representatives represents what’s best of America. The boundless opportunity to do good. But let’s be frank: The House is broken. We’re not solving problems–we’re adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. –Speaker Paul Ryan

Enjoy this day, America. Such displays of unity are rare. I am not naive about the reasons why they rarely occur. But I am still glad to witness days like this all the same.

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