March 17, 1995

A Fictitious Conversation

Time: Several months before the 1994 congressional elections.

Place: Newt Gingrich's office.

Newt Gingrich: What I want to do is to tell the public what we are planning to do if we win control of The House.

Publicist: What do you expect to gain by that?

N.G.: We'll show the public that we mean business and that we intend to do what we say we'll do.

Pub.: So what's new? That's what every politician says he will do if elected.

N.G.: Look, I didn't hire you to tell me that what I want to do won't work. I want you to come up with something that will convince the public to keep us in power -forever!

Pub.: Okay, you want to know how to do that; well I'll tell you. First of all, you've got to make the public feel as if they are a part of the process; that what you are going to do is what they want you to do. Make a deal with them, a contract that can be fulfilled. It doesn't matter if what you do is of any importance, as long as the public wants it -just remember that you're doing it for THEM!

N.G.: How will they know that they're a part of it and that we're doing it for them?

Pub.: We'll tell 'em. How about making a contract with them. You could call it a Contract with America. That way everyone is included.

N.G.: Even Democrats?

Pub.: Why not? Didn't some of them vote Republican? Include everyone! This is the will of the people. Isn't that what democracy is all about?

N.G.: Sounds good to me.

Pub.: Tell 'em that you are going to do most of it in the first 100 days.

N.G.: Why 100?

Pub.: One hundred is a good round number. That's all that the voters will be able to remember. Some of 'em can even count up that high.

N.G.: Suppose that we can't deliver.

Pub.: Nobody'll expect you to. So long as you deliver on a few of of the items, everyone will be satisfied.

N.G.: Suppose that we can't deliver on any of them. Wouldn't the public see us as failures? That would kill us in '96.

Pub.: Anyone can win with a stacked deck.

N.G.: What do you mean?

Pub.: You make sure that there are enough items that most Democrats want too; things that they tried to put through when they were in the majority.

N.G.: Such as?

Pub.: Such as the line item veto. With a Democrat in the White House, they're sure to vote for it.

N.G.: You want us to give Clinton that much power?

Pub.: Sure; it'll take a year to get it through, and he'll only have a year to use that power. Our next Republican president will have at least 4 years to use it.

N.G.: Okay, I'll mention that contract in my next speech.

Pub.: Wadaya mean "mention it! You're going to say it over and over and over again, every time that you open your mouth, or any other Republican opens his mouth. Every sentence will begin with, "In our Contract with America."

N.G.: Won't people get tired of hearing it?

Pub.: Sure they will. They get tired of hearing commercials, but they remember them. Commercials may be the only things they remember. You remember how many times you heard or read about Schindler's List. People get tired of it, but they went to see the movie and they bought the video.

N.G.: Okay, you're the expert.

Pub.: You bet your sweet bippy I am, Newtie my boy!

Next column

Return to the Politics Home Page

Return to Ira's Home Page