Animal House

Now that Tom Craddick has beaten back a wild and woolly challenge to his leadership, it’s time for him to be a good Speaker.

BEFORE I PICK OVER THE DETAILS of the race for Speaker, let me remind you of a column I wrote four years ago about the guy who had just won the job, Tom Craddick. I had gotten to know Craddick pretty well over the years, had even gone out to Midland a couple of times to visit with him, and I thought that he was the right person to lead the first GOP majority in 130 years. The column began with his recollections of his first session in the House:

‘It was kind of like I didn’t exist,’ Tom Craddick told me when I asked him what it was like to come to the House of Representatives as a 25-year-old Republican from Midland in 1969. He was isolated from his colleagues by age (‘I bet the average age of the members today is fifteen years younger than it was then’), by how he spent his spare time (‘They socialized at the Citadel Club; I built two car washes’), and most of all, by political party. Craddick was one of only 8 Republicans in the 150-member House. Gus Mutscher, the Democratic Speaker, appointed Craddick to the Committee on Enrolled and Engrossed Bills, a gulag for members who were out of favor.

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