Did Newt Gingrich Make American Politics Toxic?

House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks in support of tax limitations in 1997. (Reuters)
The old Democratic establishment that Gingrich helped bring down had rotted before he got to Congress.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F or decades, analysts and pundits have tried to trace the origins of the polarization, intense partisanship, and the “politics of personal destruction” that characterize so much of contemporary American politics. In Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party, Julian Zelizer attributes much of it to the rise of Newt Gingrich, from backbencher in the minority party to the first speaker of the first Republican House of Representatives in 40 years. That is a tall order for anyone to fill, even someone with the audacity, ambition, vision, and inexhaustible

Alvin S. Felzenberg is the author of A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. and The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn’t): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game, among other books.

Most Popular

White House

Obama Wrote Trump a $73 Million Check

The New York Times’ big exposé on President Trump's tax returns flags some things that may be dodgy but mainly it just confirms what everybody (including Trump) has always said -- there are a lot of loopholes in the tax code that a savvy operator can exploit. Whose fault is that? The system long predates ... Read More
White House

Obama Wrote Trump a $73 Million Check

The New York Times’ big exposé on President Trump's tax returns flags some things that may be dodgy but mainly it just confirms what everybody (including Trump) has always said -- there are a lot of loopholes in the tax code that a savvy operator can exploit. Whose fault is that? The system long predates ... Read More

BLM Becomes the PLO

I am inclined to think that the Palestinians have some legitimate beefs, historically speaking. I just don’t care very much. You blow up children in pizza shops, and your priorities go right to the bottom of my global humanitarian to-do list. Palestinians want a state? I wouldn’t lend Mahmoud Abbas a cup ... Read More

BLM Becomes the PLO

I am inclined to think that the Palestinians have some legitimate beefs, historically speaking. I just don’t care very much. You blow up children in pizza shops, and your priorities go right to the bottom of my global humanitarian to-do list. Palestinians want a state? I wouldn’t lend Mahmoud Abbas a cup ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More