Federal Coach: Jim Leach: An Iowa Republican Carves a Life in Public Service

Jim Leach has been chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities since August 2009. Prior to being nominated by President Obama for the post, Leach served 30 years as a member of Congress from Iowa, and subsequently as a professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and as interim director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard.This interview was conducted by Tom Fox, who writes the Washington Post’s Federal Coach blog.

Is Congress a different place today compared to your early years of service?

Partisanship has always been a part of Congress, but what has changed dramatically over the past generation are the levels of individual comity. To illustrate, I had a rule never to ask favors of anybody, but to my astonishment at the end of my second term I received a phone call from my party’s leader in the House telling me that Speaker Tip O’Neill had done me an unsolicited favor.

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