How Many Will Fall?

As Jim Wright topples, the ethics purge takes down Tony Coelho too, and only Tom Foley seems safe in the succession struggle

For Jim Wright, the outcome was predictable, but the collapse of yet another Democratic leader was sudden and unexpected. Barely had Wright's lawyer, Stephen Susman, begun his opening statement to the House ethics committee last week, pleading that even a dead man deserves due process, when all parties seemed to be looking for a way out of the spectacle of a Speaker of the House of Representatives going on trial.

Getting Wright to walk the plank -- with dignity, if possible, but above all with speed -- seemed to be Congress's best hope of restoring its tattered reputation. When the Speaker...

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