Live Opposition

With his bushy eyebrows, courtly manners and singsong Texas drawl, Jim Wright comes across as a curious mix: part kindly uncle, part snake-oil salesman. It was the second ingredient that gave some Democrats pause about the new House Speaker's delivering the party's response to Ronald Reagan's State of the Union address. But Wright was eager for his moment in the limelight, and the result was a pleasant surprise for most of his colleagues. In many ways, the speech by the 17-term House veteran proved more effective than the slickly produced Democratic responses of past years that featured blow-dried young Senators and...

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