Former Rep. Tom Foley (D), who represented Eastern Washington from 1965 to 1995, has died at 84 from complications of a stroke.
Rep. Foley, a Spokane native, was the 57th Speaker of the House, serving from 1989 to 1995.
When I think of Speaker Foley, the word “Statesman” comes to mind. The NY Times puts it this way:
When he became speaker on June 6, 1989, Mr. Foley, from Washington State, appealed to “our friends on the Republican side to come together and put away bitterness and division and hostility.” He promised to treat “each and every member” fairly, regardless of party, and by most estimations he lived up to that promise to a degree unmatched by his successors.
By contrast, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) is a shameless partisan, acting more as a majority leader than a Speaker of the House…and frequently acting in the interest of his Party to the detriment of our nation. In my recent letter to Boehner, I reminded him that…
…you are the Speaker of the HOUSE, not the Speaker of the Republican Party. As second in line for the presidency, I expect you to show careful stewardship of our nation.
Indeed, Foley was the very archetype behind my words:
Despite sharp differences on issues, he got along better with members of the other party than any of the speakers who followed him. In that final news conference, asked to offer advice to the next speaker, Mr. Gingrich, he urged him to remember, “You are the speaker of the whole House and not just one party.”
We need more Tom Foley’s in Congress.