Why I'm Not the President

Who says Bill Clinton has no self-control?

 From where I sit, Bill deserves a medal, or at least a gold star, for his restraint after Newt Gingrich resigned not only his Speakership, but his seat in the House. If it were me, I'd be doing a nude Happy Dance on the roof of the White House, shouting down Pennsylvania Avenue towards Gingrich's office: "Who's still STANDING!? Who still has his JOB, butt-head!? NEENER NEENER NEENER! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!" I guess that's why I'm not President. One of the reasons, anyway.

 The Republicans were apparently really cheesed off at His Newtness because, in the words of Oklahoma Congressman Steve Largent, the Republican Party "hit an iceberg" in the last elections. Minority leader Dick Gephardt chimed in, calling the Gingrich resignation "the aftershock from last Tuesday's political earthquake.''

 Hey c'mon, guys, it wasn't THAT bad. The Republican majority shrank a bit in the House, but they still have control of both houses. The people spoke out with one massive voice, and the clear clarion call they gave was: Eh.

 I'll tell you, I'm going to miss the Newtster. He's provided endless grist for the humor mill, mostly due to his habit of spouting off every idea that came into his head when he was within earshot of a reporter. Who could forget the proposal that children of welfare mothers be taken away and put in orphanages? And the wonderful quote that women wouldn't be effective in combat because men are born to go off and hunt giraffes while women get "infections" if they have to crouch in a ditch waiting for the enemy? You can't BUY material like that, folks.

 So, what of Bob Livingston, who seems to have a lock on the Speakership as of this writing? Well, from what I've read, he seems to be known as a "pragmatist" which, in translation, means he doesn't froth at the mouth when discussing abortion, school prayer, and flag-burning. So far, so good.

 Livingston is also known as "pro-business." Hmm. I don't know about you, but I greet the news that Big Guvmint and Big Bidness are joining forces with the same feeling a grain of wheat must have when it hears that the mill is working perfectly. Put one hand on your wallet, cinch your belt up tight, and if you drop something, don't bend over to pick it up, if you know what I mean. Livingston has voted against increases in the minimum wage, voted against environmental and safety regulations, and voted for big taxpayer-financed subsidies to corporations, particularly those in the oil and energy business. He also voted for selling off public lands or transferring them outright to private development. Livingston looks like one of those guys who wants the government to leave business alone, except when he's giving them our money and property.

 Well, I suppose it could have been worse. There was apparently a move afoot to draft Henry Hyde of Illinois, who currently heads up the Judiciary Committee. Hyde declined, apparently feeling he had bigger witches to hunt...er, I mean fish to fry. Hyde insists that the Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry will go forward, despite the total lack of public interest shown by the election results, and despite the fact that there aren't enough votes in the Senate to convict. Hyde seems determined to submit the most doomed prosecution since OJ Simpson's. To that end, he's submitted 81 questions for Bill Clinton to answer, including: "Didn't you realize what you were doing was wrong? What were you thinking? ANSWER me, young man, and stop shuffling your feet!"

 So, the Republicans still control the House and Senate, Big Bidness will still get its tax breaks and fat subsidies, and impeachment will go forward (and probably fail). Doesn't look like the aftermath of any earthquake to me. Looks like business as usual, just quieter. It's like Pete Townshend said: "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss."

 So, whither Gingrich? What now for our favorite bomb-thrower? Gingrich is reported to have told supporters that "I think Marianne [Mrs. Newt] and I will probably take six months off and go collect dinosaurs or something.''

 Hey, does that mean he's taking Jesse Helms with him?

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1998 Jerry D. Rhoades, Jr.

Email: dustyrhoades@booksnbytes.com