The Chicago Daily Observer Mourns the Passing of Robert Michel
Bob Michel, an affable Illinois congressman who served as leader of the Republican House minority for 14 years and was skilled at seeking compromise critical in getting many initiatives of two Republican presidents through Congress, died Friday. He was 93.
Michel had announced in late 1993 that he would not seek another term representing the Peoria area and much of Central Illinois, citing lost power under a Democratic administration and a new class of lawmakers making their careers by “trashing the institution.” In an interview after the 1994 election, Michel criticized the GOP’s “Contract With America,” saying its tax-cutting and defense spending provisions could actually worsen the budget deficit.
Throughout his service, Michel was seen as a gentleman who considered many Democrats and Republicans among his friends.
“He had many opponents, but no enemies,” former President Richard Nixon said in taped remarks to a crowd of Republicans paying tribute near the end of Michel’s time in Congress. And that was a big factor in his leadership style. “Ideological activists believe they know the truth and they don’t want to negotiate or compromise or even talk about compromise,” he once said. “But in the House the ability to strike a wise compromise is an essential part of leadership.”
image James Baker, Bob Michel, Dan Rostenkowski