We Republicans like to tell everyone that America would be a better place if people were forced to take personal responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Well, Newt Gingrich, with hard work and dedication, you snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. So it’s time to walk your talk and step down.

Think about the run up to this election. The president admitted that he had sex with an employee during work hours and lied about it under oath. The president then attacked Sudan to divert attention from his sexual illness. The president kept the joint chiefs of staff of the
Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, plus the attorney general and the head of the FBI in the dark about the attack. Prosecutors have indicted or convicted scores of his political allies for trying to sell America to the Chinese Communists. And that’s just the first page of a 10,000-page story. Yet in spite of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show true leadership, Newt showed that the only thing he can lead is shower water down the drain.

I don’t know what was worse, Newt’s failed leadership or the pathetic excuses of his field generals. Did House Majority Leader Dick Armey really say the problem was that “Americans just didn’t understand the issues?” Excuse me, Dick, if America didn’t understand the issues, it’s because you failed to connect with the people.

Newt said, “He totally underestimated the power of the media, how tired people were and the need to push a much stronger election.” So Dick Armey blames the voters and Newt blames the press. How is that an example of taking personal responsibility for anything, gentlemen? Or is the thought of losing your palatial offices, large staffs, exalted titles and chauffeurs that frightening?

John Linder, chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said, “I don’t know what more we could have done. We need to get a sharper focus on the issues.” He then went on to congratulate the Democrats for “good mechanics” in getting their people to vote. Good mechanics? Apparently the man that Newt put in charge of electing Republicans to the House didn’t understand that you win elections by fighting a ground war, not an air war. TV ads simply don’t do it. Even General Motors knows that much.

It was almost as bad on the Senate side. Sen. Mitch McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, said that the Democrats did better than predicted because, “This was largely an issue-less election. There was no common theme running through the Senate elections. I’m not sure that it was possible to achieve a set of issues to run on in 1998, but it might have been.” Now if that type of leadership inspires you, your family has my condolences because you are already dead.

Sen. McConnell then insulted the intelligence of everyone by saying that “the (Newt-inspired) Clinton (attack) ad wasn’t an issue in any Senate election across the country.” I guess Mitch thinks that Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer won because they brushed their teeth with Crest.

One of the most stunning statistics from Tuesday is that 40 percent of those who voted were Latinos, African Americans or union members. African American voters made the difference in the election of two governors and three U. S. senators. Overall, Democrats voted straight ticket while many Republicans split their vote. Women voted overwhelming Democrat and Republicans lost ground with college-educated and affluent voters. I predict that the same “empty campaign” that sunk President Bush in 1992 will be the undoing of Speaker Newt in 1998.

If you want to know what Newt should have done, just look at our Republican governors. They figured out that governing as “compassionate conservatives” resonated in the hearts and minds of most Americans. They understood that television ads don’t elect people; organized, grass roots, get-out-the-vote campaigns elect people.

The next two years are crucial. I don’t want my choice to be Dick Gephardt or Al Gore. However, if we continue to be led by Republicans who cave on the budget, won’t give us tax relief, waste our surplus and allow Clinton to continue to destroy morale in our military, that’s just what we will get. If Republicans allow environmental radicals to beggar America’s economy in the name of junk science and play games with campaign finance reform while the Chinese Communist army tries to buy our president, that’s just whom we will deserve.

Candidates will win the 2000 elections who understand that most Americans simply want government to leave them alone. Successful candidates will understand that Reagan Democrats, middle-class Latinos and African Americans and soccer moms will elect our next president. Conservative candidates will understand that compassionate conservatism will be far more attractive than angry, divisive conservatism.

You had your time in the limelight Newt. You’ve sold your books. You have, or should I say Bob Dole has, paid your ethics fine. The honeymoon ended years ago and we have just filed the divorce papers. Take the advice that you gave Bill Clinton, Newt. For the good of the country, step down now.

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