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Newt Pelosi
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos echoes a point that I made on the podcast this week, which is that Nancy Pelosi is starting off making the same kinds of miscalculations that Newt Gingrich made when he became Speaker of the House.
But Gingrich's tenure as speaker also ushered in the intense partisanship that has soured debate in Washington. And, perhaps more alarming to Pelosi, Gingrich's speakership was a failure for his party: Gingrich gave Clinton a priceless foil — a rival whose petulance made Clinton seem steady and presidential.

Gingrich's shutdown of the government in a budget dispute, and his politically tone-deaf complaints about being asked to exit Air Force One from the rear door, suggested an ego out of control. And as Gingrich's popularity plunged, Clinton's rose and he cruised to an easy re election.

So one lesson for Pelosi is that the House speaker isn't the president, and shouldn't try to present himself or herself as the president's equal. (Gingrich, in another politically disastrous move, asked for network television time to deliver his own State-of-the-Union-type address.)

No matter how distrustful people are of the president, they still recognize that he is the nation's chief executive. No speaker — elected by a majority of the House — can compete with the president's nationally elected mandate, and no speaker can take away the president's platform for presenting his agenda.
As Mr. Gingrich learned, being a bomb-thrower as Minority Leader, while fun and satisfying, is an entirely different job than being Speaker. The job of exercising power is fundamentally different that criticizing others while they exercise it. You can't cowboy your way through Congress as Speaker, like you can as Minority Leader. And, you are the Speaker, not the President, another lesson that Mr. Gingrich never really learned.

Like Mr. Gingrich, Ms. Pelosi needs to learn that power has some drawbacks, and limitations.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Except for the fact that it allowed Bill Clinton to take all the credit, Gingrich’s 3 years as Speaker were pretty darn productive from a small governmnet libertarian perspective. The country should be so lucky as to have another nasty, mean-spirited partisan fighting to shrink (OK, reduce the growth rate of) government. The day Gingrich left was the day the Republican party, and the US government, went off the tracks for good.

Obviously all the wrong lessons were learned by everyone involved. Gingrich had the right message, he was just unfortunate enough to be up against on of the best politicians in history who had an uncanny knack for taking credit for things he previously fought against. This was a temporary situation, just look at who the Democrats had on their bench waiting for Clinton to leave. All they had to do was wait for a less-pleasing personality of which the Democratic party is almost exclusively made up of. Instead they panicked and came to the mistaken conclusion that it was their policies that were unpopular.

With the current crop of elected officials in Washington there is absolutely no danger of shutting down the government.

That’s a bad thing, BTW.
Written By: DS
URL: http://
Gingrich’s shutdown of the government in a budget dispute, [...], suggested an ego out of control.
Yeah, right. The flip side is that President Clinton could have signed the bill and avoided the shutdown. I’d like to see what would happen if President Bush decided not to sign a budget; I’m sure the press would blame Pelosi.

Luckily for the press, the odds of President Bush vetoing anything is practically nil.
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Canellos seems to be remembering history how he wishes it was instead of how it was. While the 1996 election wasn’t especially close, that was largely due to the influence of the Reform party. Clinton didn’t receive a majority of the popular vote (again) so to call it a cake-walk is something of a misstatement.

Clinton also had his ego moments, like his famous haircut incident that tied up LAX. Which was more press than anything, but...
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
Yeah BUT.....for all the "priceless" gifts Newt gave to Clinton, you’ll note that it didn’t really hurt the GOP at the polls.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"Luckily for the press, the odds of President Bush vetoing anything is practically nil."

Anybody want to hazard a guess how many bills Clinton vetoed the first two years of his administration? You know, the years when the Democrats had control of the House and Senate? And then compare that with how many vetoes Clinton signed in the next 6 years when the Republicans ran both houses.

Notice a trend here?
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