By Ray Smock
Robert H. Michel of Illinois who died this week at the age of 93 was the Republican Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1995 and served a total of 38 years in the House, retiring in 1995. Bob’s entire career in the House was as a member of the minority party during the long ascendancy of the Democrats that lasted forty years. It was bittersweet for him to announce his retirement in 1994, when the election that year resulted in the Republicans gaining control of the House. By then, however, Newt Gingrich was on the rise and he and the new Republicans that rode to victory that year had a completely different style of militant leadership. Those of us who witnessed the “Gingrich Revolution” could not help but think that Bob Michel would have a difficult time with the new style of leadership had he remained in the House.
Fifty years ago, Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, establishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The bill came as a result of a study conducted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York which urged the creation of public broadcasting to combat the growing influence of commercial broadcasters on America’s airwaves. At the urging of President Johnson, the Senate took up the motion in late spring and quickly moved it through the Senate Commerce Committee, sending it to the House in May of 1967. However, it was in the House of Representatives that the bill became embattled in protracted and contentious hearings.
By Ray Smock
Oxford University Press publishes an exciting series of books under the general heading of “A Very Short Introduction.” Top scholars in remarkably wide ranging fields of inquiry synthesize big topics with plenty of wallop per page. Three in the series are right in the wheelhouse of the Byrd Center’s mission and I am pleased to recommend them to you.
Welcome to the Byrd Center Blog! We share content here including research from our archival collections, articles from our director, and information on upcoming events.