Where are Jim Wright and Tom Foley?

WHERE ARE JIM WRIGHT AND TOM FOLEY?…. One of the big political stories of the day, apparently, is Newt Gingrich’s blind-rage attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I mentioed it earlier, in large part because a) I find it hilarious that Republicans have let a disgraced former Speaker become one of their leading attack dogs; b) his argument was incoherent, but common among Republicans; and c) Newt seems to be getting nuttier as time goes on.

Nevertheless, Gingrich’s tantrum is being treated as one of the day’s most important political stories by major outlets. Atrios asks the right question:

[Y]ou know, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has precisely zero power but his every pronouncement is treated as Incredibly Important News. Any journalists want to explain why?

I suspect it’s not because they think it’s hilarious that Republicans have let a disgraced former Speaker become one of their leading attack dogs and because Newt seems to be getting nuttier as time goes on.

Let me put this a slightly different way.

Remember Jim Wright? He was a Texas Democrat who served as the House Speaker for about a year and a half in the late 1980s. Remember Tom Foley? He was a Washington state Democrat who served as the House Speaker for about six years, following Wright.

When was the last time you heard either of them throw a partisan temper tantrum, lashing out wildly at Republican officials? If, every other day or so, Wright and/or Foley popped up in D.C. to take cheap shots at GOP leaders, would it be treated, each and every time, as a huge political story by establishment reporters?

More to the point, when was the last time major news outlets asked Wright and/or Foley to appear on major news programs, giving them a platform to launch attacks at their political rivals?

Newt Gingrich left office more than a decade ago as a national embarrassment. He is one of the nation’s least liked and least respected political figures. And as a practical matter, he is just as relevant to the current political landscape as Jim Wright and Tom Foley. (Wright fell victim to an ethics scandal, but then again, so did Gingrich.)

In fairness, Gingrich maintains slightly more importance, by virtue of the fact that his shrinking political party keeps turning to him for advice, as compared to Wright and Foley, who Dems tend to ignore. But that’s not much of an excuse — just because Republicans on the Hill are foolish enough to take Gingrich’s tirades seriously doesn’t mean political reporters should do the same.