As even Bob Dornan must know by now, the Republicans lost a half-dozen seats in the House of Representatives this month, and failed to make any headway in the Senate. And there was Newt Gingrich on the tube, putting the best possible spin on the situation, pointing out that this was the first time in ages that the GOP had retained control of Congress for three successive sessions, something the media didn't have the nerve to point out. The aforementioned nerveless media, of course, spent most of the next day playing back the videotape of Gingrich's statement.

Merely being correct in the rest of his observation, though, wasn't going to be enough to save Gingrich. The GOP's Young Jerks — er, Turks — never really trusted him, and pinheads of the Steve Largent (just up the turnpike from me, but too close even if he were on Deimos) stripe decided that the Speaker would be this year's designated scapegoat. Faced with seemingly-massive defections from the ranks of his supporters, Gingrich stepped down from the post of Speaker and resigned his House seat.

What must stick in Newt Gingrich's craw, though, is the fact that he taught these new-wave narcissists everything they know; he was the GOP's attack dog while those little puppies were still whining. It is true that Gingrich didn't spend every waking hour tending to the agenda of the Class of '94 and the New Christian Fascists — whatever Newt did, ninety-some-odd times out of a hundred, was done primarily for the benefit of Newt — but who would have thought that Newt Gingrich, the ranking ideologue of the Nineties, would be forced out of his job for not being ideological enough? Certainly not I.

And so now the House is called to order by that (usually) genteel fellow from Louisiana, Bob Livingston, a man as conservative as Gingrich professed to be, but also a man who knows how to cut a deal when the buzzer is going off — in other words, exactly the wrong person for the We Will Not Compromise crowd. I couldn't be happier for them. As for Newt Gingrich, he will be remembered, at least in some circles, as a man who knew when to leave. A pity he couldn't convey that lesson to his twin brother over on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Vent

17 November 1998

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 Copyright © 1998 by Charles G. Hill