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Dick Armey's heartless abandonment of Newt Gingrich couldn't have come at a worse time for the ever-so-cuddly speaker...
Gingrich, after all, was on the verge of a successful
comeback from his ethics fiasco, having secured a loan from Bob
Dole (to be repaid by the Georgian's
great-grandchildren) to pay the penalty.
We suspect jealousy was behind Newt Gingrich's attack on the First Man for failing to remind kids to "just say no" to drugs on the "Bill Clinton: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll President" TV special...
Why else would the Newtster jump on the
prez for an omission he says shows
Clinton is soft on teen drug use? "Your casual disregard
for the issue was an opportunity (to get) wasted," Gingrich
It's a helluva deal for the parties involved...
Newt the Gingrich, like
another prominent leader in Washington,
needed the money. And Bobdole had some to
spare--or at least he knew where to go get it.
Remember many months ago, when President Bill, struggling with mid-term malaise, whimpered he was still relevant? Well, guess who's turn it is now to wave his hand vigorously and shout "I'm not dead yet"?
Uncharacteristically on the
defensive, Newt Gingrich is saying it's OK
to sit down and talk with Clinton, since a compromise
on the budget and other important issues
would be good for the God, country and Republicans' re-election chances.
(Or perhaps it's just visiting?)
As soon as Newt's $300,000 check clears the House bank (if you recall, it's right next to the House Post Office), the Hill gang will turn the other cheek, move along and get on with the rest of its miserable life.
Don't bet on it.
Letting bygones go by is not in the molecular structure of most of these political beings. So give it a few hours for the stench to clear and get ready. Another mudfest is sure to follow.
And don't get too excited about the nicey-nicey comments from the other end of Pa. Ave., either. Two weeks from now, President ("I-Am-Not-a-Lame-Duck") Clinton's offer to meet the Republicans halfway on cutting Medicare costs will seem about as genuine as a $4 Bill.
The more things stay the same, the more they remain unchanged.
It's almost too much.
The president's lawyer stands before the Supreme Court arguing the first man shouldn't be subject (for now) to a lawsuit over what may or may not have transpired in a Little Rock hotel room (involving President Bill's private parts and their "distinguishing characteristics").
Across the street, in the hallowed halls of Congress, lawmakers are astew over the taping of an intercepted cellular phone call in which Newt Gingrich is heard to say things he wasn't supposed to:
"I'm a Commie and proud of it. Now let's knock off the mint and frame Janet Reno for the Kennedy assassination--both of 'em... What? This is Domino's. Sorry.[CLICK].".
The latest twist: a Democratic member of the very ethics panel investigating Newt for improprieties involving tax money and his college course ("The Legacy of Republicanism in the late 20th Century") supposedly leaked the illicit tape to the New York Times and other liberal media.
Of course, the Republicans unleashed their mighty fury at the Democrat, Rep. Jim McDermott, threatening to call him bad names and send him to the principal's office. McDermott (a psychiatrist by trade) said they were all "crazy" but he cracked and quit the Gingrich probe.
Not only that but the GOP is pushing for criminal charges against the poor Florida couple who picked up the call via police scanner ("What's your 20?...Dunkin Donuts") and taped it. They thought the conversation was "part of history." (Now they're part of something else.)
Needless to say, the FBI is looking into the matter.
If all this is giving you a headache, join the club.
Where will it all end? Well, may we suggest replaying the scene from Independence Day when D.C. turns to toast?
Contrite as he may have been on the podium, humbly accepting his almost-not-to-be victory, Newt wasted no time laying some heavy duty retribution on those who spurned him.
Gingrich had just finished boasting that the civil debate over his re-nomination was evidence that "we've got a great Democracy where people of opposing views can make them known and then go on about their business like nothing happened..."
But quick as you can say "eat my grits," Newt was whipping out his Motorola pocket phone to cancel the invites of folks like Reps. Michael Forbes and Jim Leach to a big Republican fundraiser and Gingrich slimefest.
Of course that could hardly be a surprise in Washington, a town where "You scratch my back, I'll scratch whatever you want" is the part of the unwritten oath of office.
But it's still amusing to learn (from reading the Wall Street Journal) that the Republicans aren't taking too kindly to corporations that butter both sides of their bread by giving some to each party.
The Blue Chippers are being told they can expect no favors from the GOPowerful in Congress if their names are also found on checks made out to the Democrats.
So, what are the AT&T's, IBM's and GE's of America to do?
Moot point. Everybody knows money purchases zero influence on Capitol Hill (where everyone's honest, all the women are beautiful and you can still get a good cuppa coffee for a song and a dime).
And you can
dance to it
Somehow a tape of the forbidden conversation landed in the New York Times' lap, including the bit where Majority Leader "Dick" Armey advises the Newtster to quote the Gatlin Brothers: "I did not mean to deceive you. I never intended to push or shove. I just wish that you was someone that I love."
We're not sure how big a deal it is to catch Newt lying in his own voice, but we can't wait for the CD...
Most House members grit their teeth and voted for the smart alecky speaker because they had to. After all, they and he, are Republicans and it's in their nature to follow their leader, even if it's off a cliff.
Others, namely Democrats, voted for their general, Rep. Dick Gephardt, despite his lack of eyebrows.
But a few brave souls ventured forth beyond the realm of normality and cast their lot with the likes of Tip O'Neill, Michael Irvin and the Pope. (You could tell the ballot for His Holiness affected Newt the way he was babbling on about keeping God in the House...)
Our most reliable sources on the Hill tell us Gingrich had to pull out all the stops, crush all the...uh..well...you know and make all the deals he could to win the speakership vote. For example:
elect him speaker
The mission for GOP Chairman Haley Barbour was a simple one. Hold a press conference on a slow news day with this goal in mind: Save Newt Gingrich's ass.
"Gosh, the tax laws are so complicated. It's no wonder Newt goofed with that college course down in Georgia. Let's let it slide and get on with the business of re-electing him speaker."
That's what Barbour should have said. But imagine the surprise when (we can only guess it was the pressure of all those years of heading the Republican Party and the thought of retiring soon) Barbour let loose with this instead:
"I'm not a buffoon. I only play one on TV."
Wow! Honesty in politics. What a breath of fresh air...
From day to day the story changes.
One day, the tide seems to be turning against Newt in the case of Gingrich vs. His Ethical Dilemmas. He's out, gone, finito, toast.
The next, the Speaker of the House looks like he'll walk, squeak by, live to see another day.
This is one of those days. According to Associated Press sources (who's reliability is probably better than ours), it will be recommended that the Newtster receive a light wrist-tapping--not a more painful "torture by censure," which would have cost him his gavel-banging job.
Of course, the timing of all this is quite... shallwesay....interesting.
Gingrich is up for re-election as speaker next Tuesday, but the House ethics committee (the chamber's smallest panel) won't announce its decision until Wednesday.
Kind of like the groom forbidden to sleep with his bride til the day after the wedding.
Since the loss of just 20 votes could cost His Speakership the speakership, Newt and his lieutenants have been furiously dialing House members to give his perfectly good explanation of the matter:
He thought it was OK to teach a college course on Republicanism because GOP spelled backwards stands for the Party of God.
Gingrich and his supporters have even set up a Newt's Still Great Hotline. Through an unfortunate typo, the number is for a sex chat service, but that's another story...
Are we overtired from shopping and jostling for parking spaces or did we see Newt Gingrich trying to return his 1995 Time Man of the Year award?
"With all the trouble it's brought me this year, I'd rather not have it," he mumbled, brown-paper package under arm while waiting in line at the Time-Life Building's Gift Shop the day after Christmas.
Richard Nixon: "I am not a crook. "
Bill Clinton:"There's been not a single solitary shred of evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. I feel good about it"
Newt Gingrich:"In my name and over my signature, inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee, but I did not intend to mislead the committee."
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