Jim Wright

Newt Gingrich is no stranger to hypocrisies. It’s just that his own self-righteousness often gets in the way of admitting to them: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate,” the family-values candidate once famously said about his multiple extra-marital affairs.

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My New Republic colleague Jonathan Cohn's otherwise excellent Sept. 21 post, about congressional Republican leaders' thuggish letter to Ben Bernanke telling the Fed chief not to engage in further economic stimulus, is marred, in its postscript, by an excess of fair-mindedness. Citing the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, Cohn concedes that yes, there was a time when Democrats were equally guilty of trying to interfere with the independent Federal Reserve Board. And so they were.

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What lessons should John Boehner take from the fall of Newt Gingrich? I think there are three leading explanations for why Newt was a failed Speaker. John Harwood today pushes what I think is the least helpful of these, what I think of as the Sonny Bono explanation: Newt had a terrible media image. It is of course correct that Newt Gingrich was highly unpopular, and to a fair extent that was because of mistakes within his control. But Nancy Pelosi has is highly unpopular, and her caucus has shown essentially no signs of jettisoning her.

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The Wasteland

Where should all the waste from our nuclear power plants go? This isn’t a new question—quite the opposite, it can be shocking to realize how long the debate has dragged out. This past February, in San Diego, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), some of the world’s top experts on nuclear-waste management held a panel discussion. Papers were read. Exciting ideas unveiled. Yet some of the attendees couldn’t shake the sense of déjà vu.

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Learning from Newt

Early last year, a Democratic representative named Chris Bell decided it was time someone really went after Tom DeLay. Like many of his Democratic colleagues, Bell had come to believe that DeLay, a fellow Texan, was not just a tyrannical House majority leader, but that his pursuit of power had led him to trample House ethics rules.

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Broken Contract

In the summer of 1987, Newt Gingrich rode in my car while bragging that he would soon launch an "ethics offensive" that would lead to a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. At the time, Republicans were not even within sniffing distance of a House majority. And with the Iran-Contra scandal dominating the news, only a nut or a visionary--or a nutty visionary like Gingrich--would have predicted a GOP takeover.

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Who Wants Peace?

MANAGUA—There is a small chance that the causes of peace, democracy, and hemispheric security could be advanced by the Arias plan signed by five Central American presidents in Guatemala on August 7. This could occur if democrats outside Nicaragua (especially Democrats in the U.S. Congress) are uncharacteristically shrewd and stalwart in forcing the Sandinistas to live up to the accord they signed. Timetables need to be drawn up for Sandinistas to meet, leading to full, representative democracy.

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The Wright Stuff

It was big news this summer when Majority Leader Jim Wright threatened to punch a Republican right-winger during a squabble on the House floor over a procedural vote. But the incident was right in character for the hot-tempered Texan. Over the years he's made similar threats with some regularity.

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