A little humor here, ladies and gentlemen. I have here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers the Los Angeles Times today. This, this is just special. “Past Voices of Civility Back New House Effort.” You heard about this? The two-member “Center-Aisle Caucus.” There’s a Center-Aisle Caucus in the House like there’s a Congressional Black Caucus and there’s two members out of 435! (Laughing) There’s two members of the Center-Aisle Caucus, and they have as an objective to “limit rancor and to boost bipartisanship,” and they have “reached out.” They have reached out beyond the confines of the House chamber to seek advice and consent and counsel, and they have settled on Thomas Foley and Bob Michel to help ’em out with this. If this isn’t pathetic…”They were the leaders when comity last reigned in Congress — and Wednesday, Former House Speaker Tom Foley of Washington and former House Minority Leader Robert Michel of Illinois,” Peoria, to be precise, “returned to their old stomping grounds to endorse a new effort aimed at restoring civility to Capitol Hill. ‘Ours was a different time,’ said Foley who was a speaker from ’89 through ’94 when Democrats last controlled the House. ‘It’s more rancorously partisan now and that’s unfortunate.’ Michel, the GOP leader from ’81 to ’94, agreed. ‘At one time it was fun, actually enjoyable to be a member of the House.'”
For crying out loud! You talk about history revisionism? First off, there was never more partisanship in Washington than when George Mitchell and Tom Foley were running the show for the Democrats in the Senate and the House representatively. The Democrats were the most partisan group of people in these years. To say that what’s going on today is anything like what it was then is just history revision, and what it boils down to is this, folks: When the Democrats are in power there is no partisanship, and there is no mean-spiritedness because they don’t look at themselves that way because the natural order of things is them in power running the show. For crying out loud, do we forget the investigation of the October Surprise? A guy named Gary Sick from Columbia wrote a book accusing George Bush 41 flying over to Paris in an SR-71 to meet mullahs from Iran to make sure that they held onto the hostages throughout the 1980 campaign. This was an investigation that took place in the early nineties, and they went back all the way to ’80, and they were trying to prove, based on this silly book, that Bush arranged with the Iranians to keep the hostages there so they wouldn’t be released and help Jimmy Carter in 1980. There was no evidence, none whatsoever, and Foley said, “Precisely because there’s no evidence but because the seriousness of the charge, we are duty-bound to investigate this,” and they had congressional investigations into the so-called October Surprise, and here’s Bob Michel. Bob, how could you?
To come out and say it was more fun when you had 150 members and they (Democrats) wouldn’t even let you into committee hearing rooms and all you cared about was being invited to the lobbyist steak dinners and maybe playing golf with Foley or Jim Wright? You want to go back to that, when the Republicans had zilch power, weren’t winning anything, and any Republican wants to talk about how little was better? Oh, folks, I’m telling you! This story is a fabulous illustration of just how much things have changed for the better. “‘Ours was a different time,’ said Foley. ‘It’s more rancorously partisan now, and that’s unfortunate.'” Yeah, the House Bank Scandal going on during Foley’s regime, maybe Fort Worthless Jim Wright, I forget when he left. You know how Fort Worthless Jim Wright got rid of? Fort Worthless Jim Wright wrote a book, Reflections of a Public Man. It was 200 and some odd pages, and some pages had two words on it. It was a cut-and-paste job from speeches. Most of the books were purchased by unions and never left the warehouse. Fort Worthless Jim made all kinds of money on the book, and it was in violation of House rules, and so Newt Gingrich called him on it, and Fort Worthless Jim was forced to quit, and that’s a primary reason at the outset, anyway, they all hated Newt. You just didn’t challenge Democrat speakers of the House!
You just didn’t do this — and to say it was less partisan then, folks? It’s a good thing you have me here to remind you and I have a good memory of how it was. I remember the partisanship which Reagan was president, which is the era these guys are talking about. Tom Foley is no different than Pelosi today, no different than Howard Dean today, no different than Harry Reid, no different than Daschle. You know, Daschle replaced George Mitchell. George Mitchell was the most partisan man in Washington when he was there. He was the Senate leader of the Democrats. He got away with it because he was so soft-spoken. Where do you think Daschle learn that? And of course the press all loved these guys, and of course when you’re in power, you’re running the show, and you’re Democrats of course there’s no partisanship! It’s just normal. It is hunky-dory. It’s heaven. But Bob Michel to be losing with 160 members in a 435 House of Representatives is better? Who are the Center-Aisle Caucus? “They are Timothy Johnson, Republican from Illinois, Steve Israel, a Democrat from New York — and they hope to develop a legislative agenda on issues like veterans affairs that members can embrace across the aisle that separates Republicans from Democrats. ‘That’s not to say there won’t be disagreement but it doesn’t have to be mean-spirited,’ Israel said. They are so far the only two members of their new caucus. Johnson and Israel report considerable interest in their proposal from colleagues which Israel called a ‘real thirst for teamwork.’ For his part, Michel, Bob Michel said he initially opposed C-SPAN’s live broadcast of House floor action and still regrets that the media has spotlighted and politicized debate because that’s just added to the partisanship. But now he’s glad that it is on the air.” So (sighing) just amazing. It’s just, just, just amazing. It’s pathetic. It’s hilarious. Center-Aisle Caucus bringing back civility? Is it any wonder that the Democrat would choose Bob Michel to come back and advice the Republicans here on how to get along. There’s a real simple way to get along with Democrats, and that’s lose. Give the Democrats what they want, let ’em have power, and they will love you. What good is that?