by J.D. Tuccille
January 12, 1997

Eye On Newt

Do you hear that thumping sound? That’s the noise made by plump congressional Democrats, dancing in glee. And, structural threat that they may pose to the Capitol building aside, they have reason to dance — ya see, nothing could make ’em happier than the reelection of Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House of Representatives.

Democrat joy shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody — not even to the apparently clue-deficient Republicans in congress. After all, Gingrich won his way to the top by exposing former Speaker Jim Wright’s truly impressive ethical transgressions, and he opposes a White House occupant who apparently aspires to paint Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding as amateurs. Why should Gingrich expect a free ride on the ethics issue? If the man had an iota of common sense, he’d live the life of a choirboy to at least offer a moving target to the political opposition.

But arrogance is the red meat of politics. Who else but an egomaniac would subject himself to endless combat and the ritual, public disinterment of every shadowy personal secret for the questionable prize of lording coercive power over fellow humans? To put it bluntly, few humble, decent people would ever want to go into politics.

But indecency isn’t stupidity. Gingrich could still have kept himself clean for the sake of maintaining his position. No matter his personal inclinations, a spotless record would serve him well in the long run. The current scandal over the use of tax-deductible contributions to fund partisan political activities — as Gingrich’s “Renewing American Civilization” course has been labeled — may constitute casual shoplifting by Washington’s standards, but it takes the wind out of the sales of a self-proclaimed “Republican revolutionary” who supposedly came to town to change the system.

But if Gingrich himself can’t tell the difference between right and wrong, why should House Republicans go down with the ship? What happens to the sad remnants of the so-called revolution when its chief proves as tainted as the old regime?

Some Republicans have complained that the Democrats targeted Newt as revenge for the fall of Jim Wright. Well, yes children, and perhaps now we should discuss the Easter Bunny.

Other grown, mature members of congress have moaned that without Newt, the revolution is lost, the movement leaderless. “Newt, Newt, wherefore art thou, Newt.”

Kids, the revolution wasn’t lost, it was surrendered. And Newt was one of the first to wave the white flag after shooting himself and his compatriots in their collective feet. Anybody who could vote for an untarnished Newt after his concessions to the White House and apology for moving “too fast” on the Contract with America (too fast? where?) is probably not fighting for the same goals as me.

As for the end of the movement ... There’s a name for movements that crumble upon the loss of one figure — they’re called cults of personality (and yes, that was a damned good Living Color song). Even New Dealers and Peronistas survived the loss of their mortal deities. The downsizing of government and the restoration of limits upon federal authority, resting upon libraries of intellectual thought and two centuries of national tradition, better be able to outlive the disgrace of one clever, astute, but hubris-infused politico.

But the Republicans had to save fearless leader. Newt Gingrich is still Speaker of the House, and that is likely to have consequences. The leader of the Republican troops is under the spotlight — he wants the dogs called off. Not far away, the Democratic president faces a few difficulties with an independent prosecutor he’d just as soon see disappear. And when two parties can each provide something that the other wants ... well ... you don’t suppose there’ll be a meeting of the minds, do you?

Hmmm. Maybe there is room for agreement in D.C.

And CLOMP CLOMP CLOMP go those dancing feet.

Ah well, and so much for the power of argument. So back you go to Full Automatic or to my home page.

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Copyright (c) 1997 Jerome D. (Il Tooch) Tuccille. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Il Tooch is prohibited. Mess with me and I’ll use your polished skull as a beer mug.