Republican chair Watts promises new party successes
Forget the hype about Gingrich's departure from the House of Representatives. It is OK if you have never heard of the new speaker, Bob Livingston. The real news in the Republican House is the new chair of the Republican Conference, J.C. Watts.

Watts, a representative from Oklahoma, is the kind of public servant this nation longs for. He is honest, bold and charismatic. Watts belongs in Washington because he does not fit in.

Watts is certainly unique. He is the only black Republican in the House, he is the only black representative who is not a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and he is the only politician who is not afraid of the media.

Once before a group of reporters, Watts said he did not care what they wrote. He said he had a life before he went to Congress and he was not afraid to return to that life.

This brand of frank confidence is rare inside the beltway. This is why Watts' is a valuable asset to his party -- and the nation.

Fortunately, the Republicans have recognized Watts' value and have quickly promoted him to prominent party positions. Last year, during his second term in Congress, Watts was selected to deliver the Republican response to Clinton's State of the Union address. Now as he begins his third term, Watts is the fourth-ranking member of the Republican leadership.

Make no mistake, Watts is not a figurehead who is awarded visibility in order to court minority support. He is a strong leader with conservative values. Watts promotes family values, personal empowerment and smaller government.

As younger generations become more involved in politics, they are not content with stuffy political leaders who cannot communicate a useful message. Young voters are not afraid of something new. They will elect professional wrestlers as governors. Watts is able to meet the expectations of these voters without compromising his message.

Too often the Republican Party has applied the Barry Goldwater theory of politics -- "we have good ideas, we're old and wise, vote for us." Unfortunately, that strategy does not woo voters and does not persuade other decision makers.

Watts employs the same methods that put Ronald Reagan in the White House. Both politicians will be remembered for their strong vision and the powerful personas that shared that vision with the public.

Whatever problems the party had with Newt Gingrich, at least he was an interesting and recognizable figure. Few Americans have even heard of Livingston, yet he is now the Republican leader in the House. Watts has gained a national reputation only a few short years after entering the political arena.

Watts is not just an effective politician, but an upstanding individual who Americans can proudly support.

While late-night comedians joke about the vices exhibited by national legislators, Watts appears unable to garner any negative press. He is a wholesome Baptist minister with integrity.

In a Dallas speech last year, Watts said, "My most important title is not 'honorable,' or 'Congressman,' but 'dad,' and 'husband.'"

Indeed, those are his most important roles, but the Republicans should be thankful he has accepted a new role as conference chair.

Other officials may bear greater responsibility or more prestige, but Watts bears the greatest potential. He has already risen from football player to the number four Republican representative. There is no telling how much further he can go.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.