Showdown: The Struggle Between the Gingrich Congress and the Clinton White Houseby Elizabeth Drew
Elizabeth Drew presents a vivid account of the dramatic and historic political clash between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich as the Speaker of the House sought to repeal the New Deal. Her reporting also reveals the turmoil within the White House and among Republicans -- Bob Dole and Gingrich in particular -- as this remarkable story progressed. Her new afterword shows… See more details below
Elizabeth Drew presents a vivid account of the dramatic and historic political clash between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich as the Speaker of the House sought to repeal the New Deal. Her reporting also reveals the turmoil within the White House and among Republicans -- Bob Dole and Gingrich in particular -- as this remarkable story progressed. Her new afterword shows the political fallout from this struggle and discusses the implications of the '96 elections.
The midterm congressional elections of 1994 swept Republican majorities into power in both the House and Senate, at one stroke crippling the Clinton administration. Georgia representative Newt Gingrich, formerly the indecorous "bomb-thrower" of the unruly Republican minority and now newly elected speaker, was the author of the Contract with America, on which many Republicans had been elected. He was regarded as the personal leader of the Republican revolution. In Drew's account, it was Gingrich, more than Republican Senate leader Bob Dole, who defined what the new conservatives stood for, and it was he with whom the Clinton administration groped to come to terms as the new Congress convened. According to Drew, Gingrich defined the terms of public debate for much of the following year; the Contract with America, which obliged the new Congress to bring key bills to a vote within its first hundred days, dominated Washington discourse, rather than Clinton's policy initiatives. Drew shows Clinton and his staff battling the congressional leadership over issues set by the Republicans: tax reform, welfare reform, and a balanced budget. Clinton has tried to seize moral high ground on traditional Democratic issues, like affirmative action, but rather than becoming a leader on issues, Clinton is being reduced to what the author describes as a "synthesizer," selecting positions on different issues from among various available conservative or liberal choices. Ironically, he became more personally popular than either Dole or Gingrich, and as 1996 arrived, pundits gave him a real chance of reelection.
An absorbing look at President Clinton's attempt to govern at a time when a grassroots movement may be redefining the extent of federal power.
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