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

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT The Revolution

ON TUESDAY MORNING, September 27, 1994, Newt Gingrich, smiling broadly, strutted across the west lawn of the Capitol, stopping occasionally for photographs and to greet bystanders. “You made us proud, Newt!” shouted an admirer. “Way to go, Mr. Speaker,” said another. “Not yet,” he responded. “We’ve still got an election to win.” A few minutes later he joined 350 Republican House candidates gathered on a three-tiered stage constructed on the steps of the Capitol for the signing of the “Contract with America.” After a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, Gingrich took the podium. He could barely contain his enthusiasm at the prospect that Republicans had a fighting chance of picking up the forty seats needed to gain control of the House. “Clinton is in such trouble with the American people that our job is to go out and offer a clear, positive alternative,” Gingrich told the crowd. He pledged that if the Republicans won the majority, within the first 100 days they would bring to the House floor bills based on each of the ten items in their highly touted “Contract with America.” For Gingrich, however, the goal was much more grand. “Today on these steps we offer this contract as a first step towards renewing American civilization.”1

The ceremony, like the contract itself, was designed for the media. GOP congressmen gripped tiny American flags while the obligatory brass band played patriotic music. Organizers shuttled congressmen across the stage four at a time to sign their names, giving local television stations “back home” plenty of good action shots. The contract consisted of poll-tested ideas, many of them left over from the Reagan years—various tax cuts, welfare reform, congressional term limits, capital-gains tax cut, increased defense spending, a balanced budget amendment, line-item veto, tougher law enforcement, and

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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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