dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Tom Foley RIP

It's worth remembering that politics used to called "the art of the possible," that men and women pursued lives of public service without ideological axes to grind. I'm thinking of this as I read Elizabeth Drew's blog entry on the recent memorial for Tom Foley, here: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/nov/01/foley-memorial-decency/

Foley was my congressman growing up. I met him once and remember him as a large, kind man. He will be remembered mostly for his decency and for being the last Speaker of the House before the sea change wrought by Gingrich's Republican Revolution. If it's true, as Drew says, that Foley's memorial was an event where "nobody had to lie," one hopes that the congressional leaders assembled there would be equally honest with themselves. Their story since 1994 is one of near-constant decline reaching a profound nadir in the 113th Congress, perhaps the worst in a century and certainly one of the least popular.