Magazine article Insight on the News

New House Speaker Hastert -- No Straw Man

Magazine article Insight on the News

New House Speaker Hastert -- No Straw Man

Article excerpt

Conventional Democratic Party spin has it the GOP's chief whip in the House, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, is the real power in the Republican caucus and that new speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois is a straw man who meekly follows what the Texan tells him to do. Many Republicans suspected that might mm out to be the case, too, when Hastert quickly was elevated to the speakership after the abrupt withdrawal of the unfortunate Bob Livingston.

But according to lawmakers on Hastert's steering committee, their new boss isn't just a figurehead. Though they predict Democrats will continue to trot out the spin otherwise, they say Hastert is very much his own man and that DeLay, far from trying to take the lead, is deferential and keen to remain collegial.

"At several meetings when Dennis has had to be absent and DeLay has been in the chair he refused to reach final decisions on this or that, saying, `We should wait until Dennis is back,'" says one Northeastern lawmaker. …

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