Former House Speaker Dead at 84

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 18 2013 12:23 PM

Former House Speaker Tom Foley Dead at 84

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Tom Foley (R) died this week at the age of 84

Photo by Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images

Former House Speaker Tom Foley, who spent 30 years in Congress, died at the age of 84 in his home, his family confirmed Friday. Here's the Associated Press with the background:

Foley became the first speaker since the Civil War to fail to win re-election in his home district. The courtly politician lost his seat in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. The Democrat had never served a single day in the minority. He was defeated by Republican Spokane lawyer George Nethercutt.
Foley served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years during the Clinton administration. But he spent the most time in the House, serving 30 years including more than five as speaker.
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One of Foley's home-state newspapers, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, has a rather glowing obit up now that's worth a look. A small snippet:  "He will be remember[ed] as speaker of the House in [the] days when Congress still got things done .... Foley stood tall (6'3"), gave straight answers and saw his job as working out society's compromises. He kept at it even as polarized times gave vent to a politics of personal destruction."

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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