Republicans lose asset as Gingrich resigns
America will not have Newt Gingrich to kick around anymore.
After 10 years in Congress and four years as Speaker of the House, Gingrich announced he will resign from both. The Republican House members owe their current status -- both good and bad -- to Gingrich's leadership. The Republican Party will suffer from Gingrich's loss, but it is time for new leadership.
Gingrich has demonstrated his talent for political strategy. It was his "Contract with America" that created the Republican majority in Congress in 1994.
Though ridiculed and mispronounced by opponents, the contract was a 10-plank platform. Each issue was carefully selected, and each one was supported by over 80% of the American population.
Not only did the Gingrich campaign strategy give Republicans a majority in the House and Senate, but its momentum maintained those majorities for a remarkable six years. Unfortunately, the momentum from the 1994 campaign was the only thing maintaining those majorities.
Since the Republicans took over the House, their public relations victories have been small and infrequent. Their difficulties came from two major problems; the Republicans still behaved like a minority party, and they reigned in Newt Gingrich.
Shortly after he became speaker, Gingrich's public opinion dropped and many Republicans became scared. As a result, the man who orchestrated the Republican's political coup was unable to operate at full capacity.
After years of handicapping that produced only minor accomplishments, Gingrich has decided to throw in the towel. Gingrich maturely accepted the blame for Republican losses in last week's elections and decided his presence would only hinder Republican unity.
Other Republican representatives, more interested in scapegoats than responsibility, made plans to fight his reelection as speaker of the House. Gingrich opted to save them the trouble, and he will be leaving the House completely.
Gingrich will leave a void, but it was really the only option available.
Paul Weyrich, director of the Free Congress Foundation, worked closely with Gingrich when both men were associated with a satellite television channel based in Washington, D.C. In 1996, rumors arose that Gingrich might be interested in the presidency. Weyrich said Gingrich was interested in the oval office because he was a brilliant individual who was bored as speaker of the house.
If Gingrich was restless as speaker, he could never have returned to service as an ordinary House member. Besides, Gingrich is a passionate individual. If his heart is not in his job, he needs to move on.
Besides, maybe the change will create party unity. Maybe the Republican representatives will have a productive session. And if they do, they will -- once again -- owe it to Newt Gingrich.
Unfortunately, the timing is awful. Gingrich was elected less than a week ago. Now, Georgia must hold a costly special election to fill his seat. The Republican Party already lost five House seats, and risking Gingrich's district is a bad idea. The internal party politics takes away from the real business of government. Now that this decision has been made, Gingrish's replacements must be found as soon as possible.
Gingrich, on the other hand, will keep himself occupied. He may find his way back to the classroom, teaching college courses as he did only a few years ago. He may churn out more books as Nixon did for decades. Maybe he will apply himself to mounting a strategy to restore his public image and enter the Oval Office.
It can be a real challenge to fight off boredom.