Fired in Washington

The Left is wringing its hands and talking about impeachment because of the Comey firing, but it has a very short memory–its hands resemble Lady MacBeth’s- dripping with the blood of Republicans they have savaged in unceremonious firings over the years. Some of the very people crying buckets of tears for the insensitive way Comey was fired have treated Republicans with utter contempt. The following article is a “Mrs. Smith goes to Washington” kind of story –  some of you lived through it with me. After I was fired, I was told “If you want a friend in DC, get a dog.”  That’s what they tell Republicans. I know my friends at the Abbeville Institute will agree, it’s a sorry way to run the Capitol of the once free world. This article might seem far from Southern, but many Southerners saw what happened to me as emblematic of anti-Southern bias, and I came to believe that they were correct. White Southerners are treated as “the other” in our country today. White, Southern, Catholic, Republican women are anathema.

FBI Director James Comey was fired on Monday, May 8, 2017, rudely, and without warning. This is not the way a polite Southerner would do it, but in D.C., outsiders get the heave-ho pretty regularly. But when this handy tool is used on a D.C. insider—a member in good standing, it’s an “outrage” so great that talks of impeachment are being tossed around Capitol Hill. It is being echoed day and night on TV, radio, in print, and elsewhere. This will go on until the Left and its allies are certain the message has sunk in good and hard, to wit, thou shalt not fire one of our own.

Does anyone think Comey was surprised?  I doubt it. The talking heads speak nostalgically of past White Houses with their orderly processes for handling dismissals. With the exception of the Nixon White House, they say none ever did anything so outrageous as to fire someone with no warning. But Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor hired to investigate the Watergate scandal, knew that Richard Nixon was coming after his job. And, by the way, people forget what Nixon was trying to cover up – not something ­he did, but the misdeeds of his friends.

Nixon may have been the last Republican in D.C. to try and defend a friend. But Democrats defend every Democrat, every job held by a Democrat, and every Democrat tactic, no matter how dastardly, because they are a team. Beltway Republicans, on the other hand, belong to a society of individualists, a nice way of saying our side is filled with people too conservative to take any risks for anybody. To be fair to my erstwhile fellow Republicans, we have proper concerns about defending those who are actually guilty; however, when the suspect is a Republican, the Beltway gang rarely takes even a minute to find out who is and who isn’t guilty. Fire first, find out later. Trump, to his credit, took his time firing Comey. By the time Comey was fired, Trump, it seems, had the goods on him. But then, Trump is himself an outsider.

If the Nixon White House wasn’t perfect, it was an oasis of ordered liberty compared to the Clinton White House. After Whitewater, travel gate and Vince Foster, but before Monica, an astounding thing happened. On November 8, 1994, Clinton’s misdeeds enabled Newt Gingrich to nationalize a midterm election. That election delivered victories for scores of Newt’s followers, and set up the Republicans to retake the House of Representatives – for the first time since 1952.

The shock this Republican tsunami gave the Beltway was much like the one felt last November 8th. Like last November, Democrats in 1994 lost more than numbers, they lost powerful committee chairmen and also like now, they reacted with fury. Adding to their bitterness, Gingrich, who was despised by Congressional Democrats for having forced Speaker Jim Wright from office was now, as everyone knew, destined to be the new Speaker.

I first met Gingrich in Washington, in the late 80’s, when my husband was working as a Reagan political appointee. We soon relocated the Jeffrey family to Kennesaw, Georgia, in the northwest suburbs of Atlanta. A few years later, when the Georgia legislature redistricted Gingrich out of his South Atlanta suburban district, we helped introduce him to his new district that included Kennesaw. As a Professor and the Director of Political Science Internships at Kennesaw State University I and many of my students got to know Gingrich quite well. He often lectured in my American Government and Public Administration classes. And when he offered to teach a class at Kennesaw State University, I supported the plan and provided strategic assistance in setting it up and defending it against Leftist faculty objections. They admitted they would not mind a Democrat lecturing at the College, but could not abide having a Republican do so. But I did not see it as a partisan issue. Instead of the usual sound bites from their congressman, our political science students could get weeks, months actually, of serious interaction with their member of congress. This was better than an internship. I was disappointed when the course was banished to a nearby private college due to allegations that the money raised for the course was raised improperly.

That was how I happened to know Newt Gingrich. Then in mid-December, 1994, after the Republican caucus had met and elected Gingrich Speaker, he called me and said: “Dr. Jeffrey, I just called your boss, President Siegel, and informed her she would have to replace you in January. You are going to be my House Historian.”  I said, “I’m afraid you have the wrong Dr. Jeffrey, it was my husband you talked to about the House Historian position.”  However, my ever gracious husband assured me he could use time off from teaching to write a book about the new Congress. And Gingrich assured me I was not being hired to research and write history, but rather to transform the Historian’s office from an imitation of a college history department with an Historian, an Associate Historian, and an Assistant Historian, to something that was needed much more than another history department, (especially one devoid of students). So we took two-year leaves from our college posts, and moved to DC on January 1, 1995. We were very lightly briefed: “The press will want to know your age – they are bad about that.” That was it.

I was completely unprepared for the firestorm of objections from the former House Historian, historians in general, Newt’s Democrat opponents, and even think tank gurus from AEI and Brookings, who had actually called for such a change. Here’s how Newt put it on January 8th:

As Speaker, who has a Ph.D. in history, I think I have the right to select an academic who has legitimate credentials and who I believe has the enthusiasm and the belief in the American process to help a generation of young people learn why America works the way it does,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And I think I may be peculiarly, of all the people who have been speaker, in a legitimate position to make a selection that I think will be helpful in re-establishing the legitimacy of history.

She has a thorough understanding of American civilization, a deep commitment to teaching the American people the importance of sublimating your conflict into the legislative process so that it doesn’t break out into violence, and I think she has the energy and the enthusiasm and excitement to help Dick Gephardt and me create a bipartisan program that will genuinely help the country understand the legislative process.”  These comments were made in Georgia, from Reinhardt College, on Saturday, January 7th.

Gingrich was virtually my colleague at Kennesaw State University and I was honored to be appointed to this rather obscure, but nevertheless important job of House Historian. His idea for my role, as he conceived it, was public education – teaching people across the nation how the Congress does its job and how they can participate. But I never got the chance. After two days on the job, the House Democrats rallied to demand my removal and an hour or so after Senator Schumer added his voice to my condemnation, I was myself, history.

Piecing together what happened, with the help of a few friendly reporters, someone (maybe in Newt’s inner circle) informed the White House that Gingrich had hired a professor, who had once criticized a grant proposal to the department of education for a middle school history program about the Holocaust. Since I am Southern, and a friend of the despised new Speaker, no one questioned my vicious characterization. I was just one of 15 unpaid lay volunteers who had responded to a request by the Department of Education to read proposals to fund the dissemination of innovative education materials. None of us liked the Facing History and Ourselves proposal, which had thirteen-year-olds role-playing Nazis and Jews, and then trying to use values clarification to draw moral and ethical conclusions. Thirteen-year-olds! No wonder the Reagan Education Department had always refused to fund FHAO! But when Congressman Barney Frank got involved on behalf of his constituents, the Republicans leading the Education Department (Bennett, Finn, Kristol, etc.) decided to blame my review for their failure to fund the program – yes, it had the most colorful language, but it also gave the proposal its highest marks out of the 15 reviews.

On January 9th, the Monday after the new Congress was sworn in, White House Senior Advisor on Policy and Strategy, George Stephanopoulos, called to inform Jewish, black, and female Democrat members of Congress that the Gingrich appointee to the post of House Historian was an anti-Semite. These members gave multiple one-minute speeches before the opening of the Congress; and that night, New Yorkers, Schumer and Frank held a rally on the House steps to demand my firing. Schumer said a grant review I provided  “was an affront to my constituents, many of whom are survivors of the Holocaust.”

About 9:00 p.m., Newt began talking with the press – I don’t think he knew what to say; he told half of them I’d been fired and the other half that I had resigned. Asked by Atlanta Journal and Constitution reporter Jeanne Cummings exactly how he had informed me, he said I was fired on my answering machine. The truth is this: I was not fired on my answering machine and I did not resign – instead I demanded to speak to him and at 11:00 p.m., he called me. He heard me out as I tried to persuade him that letting the Left bully him about an appointment, which as Speaker he had the right to make, was a bad way to start his Speakership. He never said to me that I was fired, but dozens of reporters had heard him say it. His argument was this: if I stayed, the Democrats would use me to raise money to “get the Nazi out of the House.”  My husband even flew to Georgia to talk to him privately in his Marietta Office. He should have listened to us; his speakership might have been more successful and today, maybe he would be “Disrupter in Chief,” instead of Donald Trump.

I was utterly caught by surprise by the vitriolic turn of events, for which Mr. Schumer can take a lot of the credit, and in fact, he did. He was not fair; he didn’t make sure the timing was right or that I was informed about what was coming. Only a tiny few in the pack of journalists, baying on our front lawn, seemed to care about the truth.

My picture was on CNN every 15 minutes all night long and my name was in every daily paper in the country Tuesday morning, January 10th. The Beltway Left certainly didn’t bother to investigate the charges, it was enough that I’d been hired by their nemesis, Newt Gingrich. As his first hire, I was fair game, even if I was so far from being an anti-Semite that I was eventually defended by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. On Tuesday, asked if I was an anti-Semite, Abraham Foxman, Director of the ADL quipped: “She didn’t used to be.”  And Newt said, “I hold her in high esteem.”

A few days later, writing in one of the DC papers, Newt staffer, Tony Blankley, would brag that mine was the fastest firing in government history.

I wish Chuck Schumer who is now complaining about Trump’s timing, the means, and lack of notice, had cared about the way I was treated. But of course he did not.

In fact, this is what Schumer said to me, in front of his entire staff, including his Chief-of-staff, Anthony Wiener: “We knew you weren’t anti-Semitic, but hey, your people did not defend you.”

Comey will land comfortably, but I have had to deal with this smear of my reputation for 23 years. Given that I am an academic you can imagine the effect on the employment front. Every time I’ve been up for a job, the Schumer-Stephanopoulos, liberal smear comes up. Liberal democrats control academia and Republicans are not kind to their wounded.

After 11 months, Newt held a press conference with Abe Foxman to denounce the way the press had gone after me. He also announced a conference to teach the press a lesson and promised to rehire me. When Democrats objected to both, he went with the Democrats. Abe Foxman, however, went on all the news shows calling on Newt to do the right thing, but Newt never did.

A shorter, less interesting article on this topic, is available on the website, AmericanThinker.com

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