John Boehner, the re-elected speaker of the House of Representatives, continues to be America's highest-ranking Republican. Unless he acts more like a leader, however, he will continue to fail his party and, more importantly, the nation.
Mr. Boehner is off to a shaky start. Twelve members of his own party either voted for someone else or abstained -- the most defections in more than two decades. Mr. Boehner's failure to get unanimous support from Republicans, as he did when he was first elected in 2010, is yet another sign of a fractured Congress that is threatened by paralysis while the nation faces critical problems, including debt, gun control and a sluggish economy.
Acrimony among Republicans doesn't bode well for progress as Congress debates how to address the debt ceiling while paying for essential domestic and military programs. Making necessary but responsible cuts will require a common ground that so far has eluded Congress and the president.
To be sure, the office of speaker doesn't have the luster or power it once did. Still, Mr. Boehner has the third most powerful job in the government.
He needs to use that power to get his fellow conservatives behind proposals that have a realistic chance of moving forward. The nation can't afford two more years of gridlock.