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 November, 2006


 Republicans lose election and fear Democratic revenge

Newt Gingrich Had it Right. Stop Whining.

By Al Owens
On October 25th, 1994 a mother of two small children in a small South Carolina town, claimed she’d been the victim of a brutal carjacking at the hands of an African American. That the carjacker hadn’t taken off with her car and her two sons. Susan Smith’s story not only gathered national attention, it caught the eye of a certain Georgia Congressman who single-handedly turned it into political issue.

The 1994 Congressional Elections were only a few days away. Newt Gingrich desperately needed a straw man. He leaped at the opportunity to use the “carjacking” as an example of a society coming apart at the seams – thanks to liberals.

“I can capture everything we’re trying to do by, in a sense, referring to this weekend’s unbelievable tragedy in South Carolina,” Gingrich told his assembled housewives. “It’s about getting at the root causes of a decay in our civilization that is horrific.”

Curiously ole Newt stopped short of blaming every liberal in the country for financing that carjacking. More curiously still, nine days after Susan Smith admitted there was no carjacking. She’d driven her car into a local lake, with her two kids strapped into the back seat. I can’t find evidence that Gingrich ever apologized for his poor judgment. But I found another rather interesting Gingrich apology.

According to a re-released NBC news story I just saw from 1994, just before the election Gingrich broke bread with a few business lobbyist and told them, “The Clinton Administration is the enemy of normal people.” A few days after he spit out that little nugget, he apologized.

Looking back at those news stories, and how the Republicans were sticking out their chests before and after their 1994 “revolution”, is in stark contrast to how the Democrats are going about their business now.

While I’ve heard both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Majority leader Harry Reid both express their willingness to work with the Bush Administration on many of the important issue today, the Republicans didn’t show nearly the grace.

According to one NBC report just two days after that election, Gingrich called Democrats, “Counter-culture McGovernicks surrounded by left-wing elitists.” He’d also pledged to use his newfound subpoena power to spend the next two years investigating corruption in the Clinton Administration. No wonder with the 2006 election approaching hard line right-wing zealots were claiming that the Democrats would engage in the same thing if they got control of Congress.

Those Republicans sure know a lot about revenge. Of course 1994, they hadn’t controlled both house of congress since the mid-1950’s. The Democrats of 2006 had only been out of power for twelve years. Many of the Democrats who are now in majorities in the House and Senate were around before the Republicans took over 12 years ago. I don’t expect them to plot revenge now. At least I don’t expect to hear stories like the ones I’ve seen re-released from 1994, where the newly crowned Newt Gingrich told House staffers to fan out across the building to warn Democrats that they’d face fines and even imprisonment if they destroyed House documents. After all they could be used in future Republican led witch hunts.

No wonder the Republicans of 2006 are expecting to be horse-whipped by Democrats. Although if you listen to the right these days, you’ll find they didn’t really get beaten by Democrats in the election. They beat themselves.

I saw something really strange the other night. On one cable channel a right-wing pundit claimed the reason the Republicans came up short was because they’d moved too far to the right. A few minutes later, another right-wing pundit on another cable station said they’d lost was because Republicans moved to far to the left. For all of this hand-wringing I’ll have to take you back to 1994 again.

On November 11th, just 3 days after sweeping Congress, Newt Gingrich was it again. “The New Hampshire slogan”, Gingrich told his ecstatic followers that day, “is live free or die. “Not live free or whine.” Well, who’s whining now?