Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) — Newt Gingrich’s return to prominence may not last, but it should stir memories of the last time he was a major figure on the national scene. Indeed, revisiting the events of 1996 allows us to imagine a different scenario for this election year than most observers expect.
Back in 1995, as in 2011, powerful Republican leaders (including Gingrich, then speaker of the House) faced a Democratic president who had been weakened by a stinging midterm defeat. They blocked the president’s initiatives, and tried to use their power in Congress to bring him down. By the end of 1995, gridlock had reached a new high with the government shutdown and the failure of budget talks between the White House and Congress. Sound familiar?