Tom Foley: The Man in the Middle (Hardcover)
Thomas S. Foley, a Democratic representative from the traditionally Republican region of eastern Washington, served in Congress from 1964 to 1994. In 1989 he became the first Speaker of the US House of Representatives from a district west of Texas. His thirty years of experience as a Democrat representing a Republican-leaning district contributed to his strong commitment to bipartisanship and institution building. His speakership came to an end when the Newt Gingrich-led "Republican Revolution" ushered in an era of ideological polarization and fierce partisanship.
Tom Foley: The Man in the Middle is a political biography of this important but often overlooked figure in modern congressional history. While examining the story of Foley's service as Speaker of the House, R. Kenton Bird and John C. Pierce place his career in the context of both his own life story and congressional politics in the late twentieth century. What emerges is the story of a leader whose strongly held political values motivated him to sustain a vibrant and responsive House of Representatives as an institution, with a stance that proved incompatible with the polarized and strident political environment that emerged in the early 1990s.
Bird and Pierce offer the first major study of Tom Foley's political career in this penetrating look at a unique and transformative congressional leader who focused on making Congress work by bringing politicians from both sides of the aisle together. Foley's tenure spanned the crucial years of transition between this bipartisan ideology of governance and the politics of the twenty-first century, between the leadership styles of Democrats Jim Wright and Tip O'Neil and that of Republican Gingrich. Foley's defeat in 1994 ended this remarkable career of leading from the middle and marked a seismic transition in the landscape of American politics.