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Tuesday, November 10, 1998

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Spinning In Place

"The environment the media created said there was only one issue out there that mattered." That was what Newt Gingrich said to shift the blame from his cynical prediction that by stressing Bill Clinton's infidelity in their last smattering of ads (you remember, the two women discussing it over coffee in the kitchen) they would win overwhelmingly and have the last laugh. In truth, it was not the media and it was clearly not the people's interest in the President's sex life that turned the election. It was the Republican's political misjudgement of what the American people are really made of. Exit polls indicated that the majority of voters felt the Republicans were overplaying their hand to hurt the President in the elections, even though they knew that the charges did not rise to the impeachment level. 65% said the Republicans were being distracted from the country's business by this witch hunt (that was mid-October). And even in his ridiculously self-serving GoPac Goodbye Speech, Newt stated that he was only leaving because he was unselfishly putting "country above self." "The issues," he stated, "are bigger than one person." Well, after all is said and done, as usual, more is said than done. The lesson, Newt, was to remember that American politics, while distracted by scandal and fueled by rumor, is far, far more than just those things. In the end, issues win elections. And, in the end, good, fair governments hold majorities. Hey Newt, for all of your encouragement of the "morality" issues, you forgot the most basic moral action of all: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."

As has been said many times in many places:
a good example is the best sermon ever preached.

One last thing on lessons learned or not learned: Robert Linlithgow Livingston.
He is combative, pro-business (especially large gas and utilities), a military hawk, an Ayn Rand fan, hot-tempered, and over the past week he has conducted a "panzerlike" campaign, steam rolling his colleagues and his former best friend, The Newt, in the quest for his lifelong goal: The Speakership. He is publicly presenting himself as a "calming influence" on the House, but anyone who follows national politics knows that he has always been at the center of the contentiousness, of the stridency. He has the same agenda as Newt did: big business, pro-oil, southern-led, but he is more insider-institutional than his predecessor. And, Livingston is more pragmatic than Newt, who felt that, intellectually, his ideas were superior and inevitable. Livingston has no illusions: all is politics and manipulation. The patriarch of the Livingston family (they owned over a million acres in the Hudson Valley at one time), Robert R. Livingston, swore George Washington into office and helped negotiated the Louisiana Purchase. And, Philip Livingston, signed the Declaration of Independence, as you know. His family's fortune was wiped out in the Depression, his father was a raging alcoholic, and his parents divorced when he was seven. He grew up the son of a poor, working woman, in the shipyards, resolved to "do better than he [Dad] did."

When he ran for Governor of Louisiana, he verbally fumbled so badly during a final debate that it doomed his candidacy. The question of whether or not he can handle the pressure and the national spotlight is one that was raised constantly during his brief, fierce, behind-the-scenes campaign among Republicans last week.

Is all of this in any way reassuring to you?

See you next time?
CRAZY JANE UPDATE: The phone call was from a female police officer.

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