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Politics: The Case Against Newt Gingrich
Clinton, Gingrich Compromise
Driven Out of His High Office
Newt Gingrich, the Republican attack-dog who drove former Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright out of office in disgrace because of (curiously) a book deal, had come full circle.
Not to mention Gingrich's own (questionable) book deal, the Georgia legislature and present Speaker of the House has admitted filing erroneous information with the Ethics Committee in connection with its investigation of the college course he taught. The course was an activity of his political action committee and, thus, contributions for the partisan course did not qualify for tax-exempt status.
But that didn't stop Newt, who now is seeking re-election as speaker when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 7. It didn't stop him from filing for the tax exemptions, and it didn't stop him from denying for two years that the course was political -- and that he did anything wrong.
When he drove Wright out of office, Gingrich said the Speaker's high office called for a higher standard of ethics than that imposed on ordinary congressmen. But now he apparently flip-flops; now, while admitting to mistakes, he coyly tries to say that what he did was not bad, just an error in judgment.
What Gingrich now admits, he lied about for two solid years.
And his admission of guilt, which his supporters hold up as a virtue, is flawed because it comes only after he faced a unanimous decision of the Ethics panel -- when he could no longer deny guilt with a straight face.
Instead of facing the issue squarely, he and his lawyers seek to get around his troubles by negotiating their way back out. It won't, or at least, shouldn't work.
Despite it all, many Republicans continue to support Gingrich for re-election as speaker. While our own U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-4th) is becoming adept at jumping fences, depending on which side of the issue gains him the most, he and other Republicans would like to believe that Gingrich's ethical lapses are only minor compared to the many charges President Bill Clinton faces.
But the truth is that Gingrich, by his own rather large mouth, is guilty, at least, of giving the Ethics Committee bad information -- and denying it for two years. Clinton, and Hillary as well, have been subjected to mostly partisan charges on a whole array of issues, principally Whitewater, but not one of these charges has uncovered any credible evidence against them.
The GOP attacks have been relentless -- and strictly political. The unsubstantiated charges by Republican standard-bearer Bob Dole, and others, over the last two years have been especially egregious.
Apparently it's OK for Republicans to make one unsubstantiated attack after another, but Democrats should sit idly by while Republicans admit unethical behavior. Whitewater is an especially vivid example; after all, the savings and loan disaster it involves is a scandal that should be laid at the doorstep of the Republicans, not the Democrats.
Gingrich should save the Republican Party from two more years of leadership by someone who admits questionable ethics, and allow the American people to have a speaker who sets high ethical standards.
Why can't Gingrich be a man: Admit his guilt and pay the consequences.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Dec. 28, 1996. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.