The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation

The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry that Defined a Generation

Steven M. Gillon

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0195322789

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Most Americans saw President Bill Clinton and Speaker Newt Gingrich as staunch foes--"the polar extremes of Pennsylvania Avenue." But as Steven Gillon reveals in The Pact, these powerful adversaries formed a secret alliance in 1997, a pact that would have rocked the political landscape, had it not foundered in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal.

A fascinating look at politics American-style, The Pact offers a riveting account of two of America's most charismatic and influential leaders, detailing both their differences and their striking similarities, and highlighting the profound and lasting impact the tumultuous 1960s had on both their personal and political lives. With the cooperation of both President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich, interviews with key players who have never before spoken about their experiences, along with unprecedented access to Gingrich's private papers, Gillon not only offers a behind-the-scenes look at the budget impasse and the government shutdown in 1995--the famous face-off between Clinton and Gingrich--but he also reveals how the two moved closer together after 1996--closer than anyone knew. In particular, the book illuminates their secret efforts to abandon the liberal and conservative wings of their own parties and strike a bi-partisan deal to reform the "third rail of American politics"--Social Security and Medicare. That potentially groundbreaking effort was swept away by the highly charged reaction to the Lewinsky affair, ending an initiative that might have transformed millions of American lives.

Packed with compelling new revelations about two of the most powerful and intriguing figures of our time, this book will be must reading for everyone interested in politics or current events.

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implementing it one piece at a time.”51 Gingrich defended the compromises as a necessary part of effective governing. “I made a very conscious decision that it was better for America and better for the Republican Party to prove that we could govern,” he told the Washington Post. “We decided that four years of incremental achievement in our direction are superior to four years of obstruction while we scream about values.”52 Both men had reason to celebrate the victory. “They saw it as a personal

Web sites circulated wild stories of White House intrigue. At the same time, a new breed of celebrity reporters made the rounds on news talk shows to offer opinions about the scandal, discuss the latest rumors, and make predictions about the future. Each day the situation grew bleaker, as journalists, amid the rumors and speculation, uncovered new evidence. By the weekend, there were reports that an unnamed White House worker had witnessed a private encounter between Clinton and Lewinsky. Word

emerge as leaders of cultural armies fighting over the legacy of the decade. CHAPTER THREE Paths to Power EARLY ON A cold Monday morning in January 1974, Bill Clinton stood in front of a small crowd of family and friends at the Avanelle Motor Lodge in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and announced his candidacy for Congress. Ignoring his potential primary challengers, Clinton launched into an assault on the incumbent Republican opponent, tying him to the misdeeds of the Nixon White House and the

symbolism—of using small acts to convey that he understood the value of discipline and hard work. As governor he supported and signed a law that denied driver’s licenses to teenagers who dropped out of school. He required that fathers be listed on birth certificates to make it easier to track them down for child support. He launched programs that fined parents who failed to attend parent–teacher meetings. He incurred the wrath of the teacher unions by imposing teacher testing, but he also raised

Where is their sense of courtesy?”42 Gingrich’s childish verbal tirade was a public relations disaster for the Republicans. Coming in the second day of the shutdown when public opinion was still malleable, it made the Republicans seem petulant and stubborn, while allowing Clinton to appear presidential by comparison. “The ultimate question the press was focused on is what is the character of these two men as they enter the showdown that will affect the nation,” recalled Reich. “Who do you

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