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.

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