Why God Invented C-SPAN

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A poignant moment, as a former Speaker returns to the House Chamber.

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People don’t talk much about Jim Wright any more. But those of us who were around back then can recall a time when it appeared that he was on his way to becoming the most powerful Speaker in modern history. That was, until an ethics scandal brought him down in 1989–the first in a series that discredited a seemingly permanent Democratic majority, and set the stage for its ouster in 1994

The man who led the assault against Wright was a backbencher named Newt Gingrich. Early on, Gingrich told journalist John M. Barry : “Wright’s a useful keystone to a much bigger structure. I’ll just keep pounding and poundng on his ethics. There comes a point when it comes together and the media takes off on it, or it dies.”

In his book “The Ambition and the Power” [which, by the way, is one of the best I have ever read about the inner workings of Congress], Barry wrote that Gingrich’s voice took on “an odd tone of respect” as he added: “If Wright survives this ethics thing, he might become the greatest Speaker since Henry Clay.”

(H/T C-SPAN Video Library)

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