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Archive for Tuesday, November 10, 1998

GOP SCAPEGOAT

November 10, 1998

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Newt Gingrich has been driven out as speaker of the U.S. House by Republicans unwilling to share the blame for Nov. 3 election losses.

Political analysts will have a field day trying to decide the significance of Newt Gingrich's decision to step aside as speaker of the U.S. House, one of the most powerful political positions in the nation, and resign his House seat.

He has said he thinks it best to take this action to avoid a bitter fight within the GOP and to keep the party as strong as possible as it prepares for the presidential election in two years. He knows he has been controversial and has been a lightning rod in attracting partisan strikes from within his own party as well as from Democratic loyalists.

Many observers suggested the GOP's failure to do as well as had been predicted in House and Senate races last Tuesday was the fault of Gingrich. They said he had created too much harshness and that he had focused too much attention on the Clinton-Lewinsky affair.

Gingrich turned out to be the fall guy for many in the Republican Party who actually were more to blame than the Georgia lawmaker. In many cases, including here in the Kansas 3rd District, Republicans cost themselves an election. Perhaps incumbent Vince Snowbarger didn't run the best campaign, and maybe Democrat Dennis Moore had tremendous outside financial and professional campaign help, but it was Republicans who failed to vote and sat on their hands who defeated Snowbarger, not Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich helped bring about many positive changes in Washington, and the Contract with America resulted in many sound programs for all Americans. In fact, results of the contract helped Clinton portray himself as a moderate rather than as the tax-and-spend liberal he would have been if he had been supported by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

It was easy and fun for Gingrich's critics to blame him for GOP failures.

Unless many Republicans decide to change their ways and do a far better job of explaining their political philosophy in a straight-forward, easy-to-understand manner and unless Republicans become more accommodating to all groups within the party instead of following narrow-minded leaders, there's every reason to believe their House and Senate numbers will continue to shrink.

If that should be the case, who will they blame? Gingrich will be gone, and they'll have to find a new scapegoat.

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