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Robert Linligthgow Livingston, Jr.
Republican, Louisiana (1977-2000)
The Honorable Bob Livingston was days away from succeeding Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Here's an interesting Trifecta of BadBoys: BadBoy Livingston came to office after the resignation of BadBoy Richard A. Tonry; later, he was about to succeed BadBoy Newt Gingrich for the highest leadership position in the House of Representatives.
Livingston shocked his colleagues in 1998. Gingrich had just resigned and Congress was going through its historic debate on the impeachment of President Clinton.
Before he was about to become Speaker, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Livingston: "Are you worried about anything from the past--mistakes that have been made?"
Livingston's reply: "Look, I'm running for speaker of the House. I'm not running for sainthood. I'm not looking to be canonized. I'm just a regular person. I've got a loving wife of 33 years. I've got four wonderful kids . . . I didn't start out with money and I still don't have any." [For other pearls of wisdom, check the Quote Board].
Then in November 1998, he stepped to the House podium. "I have on occasion strayed from my marriage and in doing so nearly cost me my marriage and my family." Republicans rushed to defend Livingston. But Livingston said, he didn't have sex with any staffers, and he was never asked questions about his affairs under oath (like Bill Clinton). He sought counseling, he said, and his family has forgiven them. His "indiscretions" were a "small and painful part of the past in an otherwise wonderful marriage." He got a rousing ovation from his colleagues.
Earlier, three other House Republicans--Judiciary Committee chairman Henry J. Hyde (Illinois), Government Reform and Oversight Committee chairman Dan Burton (Indiana), and Rep. Helen Chenoweth (Idaho) all 'fessed up to marital infidelity (but not to each other).
Livingston was chosen to be Speaker, and he began his first speech as Speaker-designate by calling on Bill Clinton to resign. Democrats booed. Some shouted out: "No, no, you resign."
Then came his bombshell announcement, something he'd agonized over, and decided to add at the last minute: "I was prepared to lead our narrow majority as Speaker, and I believe I had it in me to do a fine job. But I cannot do that job or be the kind of leader that I would like to be under current circumstances. So, I must set the example that I hope President Clinton will follow. I will not stand for speaker of the House on January 6."
Bill, I've been a BadBoy and so have you. Why don't we both resign from office. I'll set the example and go first. . . .
Well, Clinton didn't go; and the Senate didn't convict him of impeachable offenses. Saturday Night Live had a skit with Livingston and Gingrich sitting at a bar, wondering how they got thrown out of office, and Clinton continued right along.