The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE Fighting Back

THE 1994 ELECTION MADE Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich the two most powerful men in America. Time referred to them as “the famous fraternal twins of American power, yin and yang of the Baby Boom, polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue.”1 Most contemporary observers viewed the two men as a study in contrasts: the hard-driving, conservative revolutionary versus the embattled liberal president. What was most striking to people who knew them and worked closely with them, however, were their similarities. “Even though they had very different politics both were very similar in personality and temperament,” reflected White House Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta. “They loved talking about books they had read. They were constantly coming up with new ideas about how to solve problems. They shared an upbeat, optimistic view that problems could be solved.”2 “There were more similarities than differences in the way that they operate,” reflected Gingrich media advisor Jim Farwell. “Both of them are intellectuals. Both are very interested in ideas. Both are future oriented. Both are remarkably open to new ideas—and that is a very rare quality. For most people in politics being open to new ideas is a posture, not a philosophy. Both of them have endless intellectual curiosity. Both are by nature coalition builders.”3

Panetta saw something else the two men shared: they were both very practical politicians who looked for points of compromise. He knew Clinton was accommodating—sometimes too accommodating. What surprised him was that for all his bombastic rhetoric, behind closed doors, Gingrich could also be very reasonable. “What I saw of the private Gingrich was a very pragmatic politician,” recalled White House congressional liaison John Hilley.4 “Deep down the president felt that he could deal with Gingrich,”

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The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter One- Growing Up 3
  • Chapter Two- It’s the ‘60s, Stupid" 9
  • Chapter Three- Paths to Power 29
  • Chapter Four- Newt Gingrich- Wedges and Magnets 49
  • Chapter Five- Bill Clinton- The "New Democrat" 71
  • Chapter Six- The Critical Year- 1992 91
  • Chapter Seven- First-Term Blues 109
  • Chapter Eight- The Revolution 123
  • Chapter Nine- Fighting Back 135
  • Chapter Ten- Budget Battles 147
  • Chapter Eleven- Winning Re-Election 173
  • Chapter Twelve- "We Can Trust Him" 187
  • Chapter Thirteen- "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet" 205
  • Chapter Fourteen- "Monica Changed Everything" 223
  • Chapter Fifteen- "Because We Can" 239
  • Chapter Sixteen- The End of Reform 259
  • Chapter Seventeen- ’60s Legacies 273
  • Sources 285
  • Notes 287
  • Index 321
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