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Friday, October 18, 2013

Tom Foley, RIP

Former House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) has died.  Perhaps his finest hour in the speakership came on January 12, 1991, during debate on the Gulf War.  The Philadelphia Inquirer described the scene:
House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D., Wash.) knew he would change no votes as he climbed down from his desk above the floor to speak. He said he spoke as just another member, because this was not a partisan issue. Foley announced he would vote against giving President Bush the power to use military force.

But his message was mostly one of unity. "However you vote," he said, ''let's come together afterwards."

Foley offered a prayer for the country, for those Americans serving in the gulf and "for our president, and he is our president," he said, underscoring his solidarity with Bush.

Then, in his deep, husky voice, Foley said: "May God bless us and guide us and bless us in the fateful days ahead."

In a great roar of applause, the House members sprang to their feet as Foley returned to his desk. Then he rapped the large gavel, silencing the cheering meant for him, and directed the clerk to start the tally that would ultimately allow a war to begin.
Watch his speech.  In light of recent events, it is useful to see what grownups look like: