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
Sports

It’s Time for a Change in Leadership

A lot of people -- including me -- will tell you he didn’t belong in the top job. We will tell you that nothing in his past performance indicated that he could handle the responsibility or had the right temperament for the pressures of leadership. Some of us opposed him before he stepped through the door and ... Read More
Sports

It’s Time for a Change in Leadership

A lot of people -- including me -- will tell you he didn’t belong in the top job. We will tell you that nothing in his past performance indicated that he could handle the responsibility or had the right temperament for the pressures of leadership. Some of us opposed him before he stepped through the door and ... Read More
Media

Three Cheers for Ruth Graham

In her piece in the New York Times today, Ruth Graham captured something quite true: Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is a cultural moment for conservative women. We don’t like to talk in terms of trailblazing, because these words have ideological implications. But we all remember the “mommy wars” when moms ... Read More
Media

Three Cheers for Ruth Graham

In her piece in the New York Times today, Ruth Graham captured something quite true: Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination is a cultural moment for conservative women. We don’t like to talk in terms of trailblazing, because these words have ideological implications. But we all remember the “mommy wars” when moms ... Read More

Revolution by Shenanigan

Texans are very fond of reminding our fellow Americans that, because of its former status as an independent republic, Texas is the only state in the union permitted by treaty to leave the Union or renegotiate its status. This is a point of pride with Texans. It isn’t true. In fact, nothing you will ever ... Read More

Revolution by Shenanigan

Texans are very fond of reminding our fellow Americans that, because of its former status as an independent republic, Texas is the only state in the union permitted by treaty to leave the Union or renegotiate its status. This is a point of pride with Texans. It isn’t true. In fact, nothing you will ever ... Read More