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

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR Newt Gingrich: Wedges
and Magnets

NEWT GINGRICH ENTERED the House in 1979, a key moment in the evolution of the Republican Party. Just five years earlier the Watergate scandal had engulfed the Nixon White House, damaged the party, and demoralized its leadership in Congress. By 1979, however, the mood had shifted. Jimmy Carter was fighting a losing battle against stagflation at home while struggling to establish his credibility as a strong leader abroad. Gingrich, and the other thirty-five Republican freshmen elected that year, brought a new set of attitudes and ideas to Congress. A confidential internal report commissioned by the Republican congressional leadership observed: “Freshmen had not been exposed to the demoralizing impact of Watergate, the Agnew and Nixon resignations, the Ford defeat, and maneuvering in a Congress dominated by two-to-one Democrats. Where older members saw persistence and shrewdness, the freshman saw timidity and indecision.” The report noted that among younger members “there is widespread support for more vigorous, determined, and strategically managed leadership.” It concluded: “The circled wagons era of staving off the Democratic assault and surviving Watergate has ended.” The Republicans wanted “to play the role of attacking Indians, while the Democrats circle their wagons for awhile.”1

Perhaps no one was more eager to play the role of “attacking Indians” than Newt Gingrich who, a week after he was sworn in as a new member of Congress, placed a statement in the Congressional Record complaining about corruption in the House. “The people are demanding we clean up our own House,” Gingrich wrote. “On a personal basis, I am sure each of us would be

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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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