You see them attacking their rib eyes with entrenching tools at the Palm or leaning back in the plump, upholstered banquettes at the Capital Grille—faded figures but well-fed, a look of dreamy contentment about them, heads carefully coiffed, faces tanned and rounded, and giving off, through the Italian silk of their bespoke pinstripes, the faintest whiff of swamp gas. These are the Boys of ’94.
They came to Washington 24 years ago with the Gingrich Revolution, retaking the House of Representatives for the Republican Party for the first time in 40 years. Their famous Contract with America bristled with small-government idealism and contempt for deficit spending, social engineering, crony capitalism, and the manipulation of the powers of the state on behalf of monied interests. The Class of ’94 was promising something that seemed impossible for public servants to ask of themselves. They were seizing power for the purpose of giving it away, returning it to the states and localities and to the people themselves.