Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
The beginning of the end of the speakership of Newt Gingrich was not
the 1998 congressional election as many believe. It was earlier, much
On Jan. 9, 1995, five days after Republicans assumed control of the
United States Congress, Gingrich fired Dr. Christina Jeffrey, the woman
he had hand-picked to serve as House historian to accurately chronicle
his glorious accomplishments.
Shortly after the opening bell of the 104th Congress, Dr. Jeffrey
became the subject of a fierce attack by Rep. Barney Frank, who accused
her of being an anti-Semite because of some remarks she made eight years
earlier in a course review for the Department of Education. Gingrich
knew the attack was baseless, but he didn’t want anything to take the
focus off his precious agenda. Therefore, he decided that Jeffrey was
expendable, and she was unceremoniously dumped.
This proved to be a seminal event. It sent a powerful signal to
Democrats that Gingrich could be rolled, and they repeated this
performance again and again over the next four years. Seizing one issue
at a time, from the school lunch to those 100,000 teachers, they whined
and cried until they got their way. Gingrich was a victim of his own
ego. He deluded himself into believing that he was so powerful and so
charming that all he had to do was throw them a bone now and then and he
However, you only can be spun around so many times before you are so
dizzy that you don’t know what direction you are heading. It wasn’t long
before the speaker lost his way and drifted back down the road to big
government which he had sworn to oppose.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey was thoroughly vindicated. No less than
Abraham Foxman, the executive director of the Anti-Defamation League,
came to her defense in what proved to be one of Gingrich’s most
embarrassing moments. The speaker was forced to apologize but did not
give her job back. Nevertheless, Jeffrey went back to teaching political
science at Kennesaw State University and remained a loyal supporter
until it became apparent that the revolution Gingrich had begun was on
However, the embarrassment for Gingrich was not over. After he and
the Republican establishment handpicked Johnny Isakson, a wealthy,
pro-abortion advocate, as his heir apparent in Georgia’s 6th district,
Jeffrey could stand it no longer and threw her hat in the ring.
Jeffrey is a Reagan Republican, in the truest since of the word, and
Gingrich’s natural successor. Dr. Jeffrey doesn’t believe in revenge.
Nevertheless, her victory would be oh so sweet.