THE CHESS CLUB ON STEROIDS….Dick Meyer, the editorial director of, lets us know today what he really thinks about the Republican revolutionaries of 1994. In fact, he tells us, it’s what everyone has thought about these guys ever since they were elected. It’s just that no one has been willing to say it until now:

Really, it’s just a simple thesis: The men who ran the Republican Party in the House of Representatives for the past 12 years were a group of weirdos.

….Politicians in this country get a bad rap. For the most part, they are like any high-achieving group in America, with roughly the same distribution of pathologies and virtues. But the leaders of the GOP House didn’t fit the personality profile of American politicians, and they didn’t deviate in a good way. It was the Chess Club on steroids.

The iconic figures of this era were Newt Gingrich, Richard Armey and Tom Delay. They were zealous advocates of free markets, low taxes and the pursuit of wealth; they were hawks and often bellicose; they were brutal critics of big government.

Yet none of these guys had success in capitalism. None made any real money before coming to Congress. None of them spent a day in uniform. And they all spent the bulk of their adult careers getting paychecks from the big government they claimed to despise.

The rest of the column is a rundown of the various hypocrisies of the House Republican leadership during this era, but I think the excerpt above is the key part of what Meyer was trying to say. The Gingrichites were a bunch of high school kids who got hooked on Ayn Rand and then forgot to grow out of it. They had obsessive personalities but no serious experience of the world, and this toxic combination led to a genuine, sincere, completely delusional belief that Atlas Shrugged wasn’t a monomaniacal flight of fancy, but a blueprint for society that could actually be put into practice. They were the guys who rant from soapboxes in Hyde Park, but with nice suits and silk ties.

At least, I think that was his point. I wonder if next week he’ll tell us what he thinks of the Bush White House. Or will he wait until 2018?

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