March 18, 1989 |
That sound you hear from Washington is the Republican Party licking its chops over the impending embarrassment of the speaker of the House. The sound you may hear a few months from now is the Democratic House majority having an ironic last laugh. By all accounts, the forthcoming report of a special counsel to the House Ethics Committee is going to provide very unpleasant reading for Jim Wright. Why did special-interest groups snap up copies of the speaker's "book," for which the speaker received an astonishing 55 percent royalty?
June 2, 1989
The evil that men do, as Shakespeare (among others) has noted, lives after them. By contrast, the good accomplished by public men later brought down by scandal is often left interred in the electronic databases of newspapers to be brought to light only when they actually depart for the Great Legislative Chamber-in-the-Sky. May that not be the case with Jim Wright. The "evil" that Mr. Wright wrought formed an extensive and compelling case against him. Those seeking to understand why his resignation as speaker of the House was necessary need go no further than the strongest count in the indictment: his unethical use of bulk sales of a vanity-press book to special- interest groups anxious to buy congressional favor.
June 10, 1989
GOING TOO FAR Only days ago Republican strategists were defending impressive gains on the ethics front: Jim Wright was down; Tony Coelho was out. Some old scores had been settled. The job for the GOP seemed simply to avoid a backlash. To make sure the American people knew, as one party memo put it, that it was not Republican-inspired "character assassination" that drove Wright & Co. from office, but "character suicide. " Then scandal-mongers at the Republican National Committee - who are led by former Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater - went too far. They decided to get the Democrats' new House Speaker, Tom Foley, with innuendoes that he is a homosexual.
June 1, 1989 |
Jim Wright pledged yesterday to resign as speaker of the House of Representatives, the first ever to be driven from office in scandal. At the same time, in an emotional speech on the House floor, Wright implored Democrats and Republicans to end "this mindless cannibalism" of political infighting and get on with the nation's business. "I tell you what - I'm going to make you a proposition," said Wright, who was defiant at times, self-pitying at others. "Let me give you back this job you gave me as a propitiation for all this season of bad will that's grown up among us - give it back to you. " The Texas Democrat, who served three years as the 48th speaker of the House, becomes the first to leave office under an ethical cloud.
January 28, 1997
When it comes to deflecting blame, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are all-stars. They're so smooth at it you sometimes wonder if they're in denial about what they've done. This doesn't bode well for a public profoundly ill-served by their shenanigans. On friendly turf in Georgia last weekend, Mr. Gingrich minimized the seriousness of the misdeeds that made him the first speaker of the House to be officially punished. He glossed over the point that a strong majority of his fellow Republicans joined in the vote to reprimand him and hit him with a $300,000 penalty.
May 1, 1996 |
Jim Wright remembers the moment vividly. It was March 21, 1979. He was pitching for the Phillies at Jack Russell Stadium in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Two things happened on the pitch to Tom Grieve. One was that Grieve singled to drive in a run. The other was that Wright's forearm snapped into two pieces. Wright eventually pitched briefly in the majors for the Kansas City Royals in 1981 and 1982. But, because of injuries, he never became the star his early promise might have suggested.
May 26, 1989 |
In the cowtown streets of the Stockyards tourist area, in the poor black neighborhood called Como and in the tall buildings downtown, Fort Worth residents seemed almost resigned yesterday to something that would have been unthinkable just months ago. Jim Wright, who has served Fort Worth like a rich and devoted uncle for more than 30 years, reportedly was preparing to resign as House speaker and possibly from Congress as well. The development has been greeted with an air of fatalism here as some of Wright's strongest supporters talked as if the resignation were a done deed.
April 30, 1989 |
My publishers couldn't seem to understand that what I wanted for my new book was simply the same publishing arrangement Jim Wright had. "I'll just take the straight 55 percent royalty deal," I told them. "I loathe quibbling. " My publishers said that they had never offered more than 15 percent royalty to an author. I knew how to handle that one. I pushed back my chair and turned to my high-powered literary agent, Robert (Slowly) Lescher. "Let's walk, Slowly," I said. In a hardball publishing negotiation, this is a sentence that has to be said just right.
June 1, 1989 |
While other childhood friends were still in short pants, Jim Wright was already acting like the congressman he seemed destined to become. In 1938, at age 15, he made his first political speech, and it reportedly caused a crowd of adults to erupt into cheers. By the time he was a high school sophomore, he had decided "that I wanted someday to serve in the Congress and to help create the foundations of a peaceful world," Wright wrote in 1970. With eerie accuracy, his 1939 yearbook predicted that Wright would someday deliver "what is said to be the most erudite speech heard in the congressional hall.
October 13, 1994 |
For those of us in the writing trade, the news that Pope John Paul II has signed a book contract for a $9 million advance is leading to delirious visions of future delights in store for Il Papa. Believe me, if you sign for $9 million, your publisher will make you do the book tour. Visualize the pope on a book tour. It's 6:15 a.m., and the pope is being interviewed by the resident airhead on "Good Morning, Pascagoula. " "So, Pope - you don't mind if I call you Pope, do you, John Paul?