Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hell Week on the Hill: Mr. Speaker, Get Some Sleep, Colleague Urges

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hell Week on the Hill: Mr. Speaker, Get Some Sleep, Colleague Urges

Article excerpt

EVEN BY HIS standards, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., is having a tumultuous month. Some of his Republican colleagues are advising him to get some sleep, listen to his wife and above all stop talking about Air Force One.

Gingrich has been in combat mode for several days now, accusing President Bill Clinton of lying, of being unwilling to work and of deliberately snubbing him and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., on their trip to Israel last week for Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.

Gingrich neared rhetorical meltdown Wednesday morning with his angry account of perceived mistreatment aboard the presidential aircraft and his contention that it led in part to this week's government closings.

The New York Daily News depicted the situation Thursday with a front-page cartoon of Gingrich in a diaper having a tantrum. Several Democrats ridiculed what they called Gingrich's petulance and brandished a copy of the Daily News on the House floor.

"You expect this kind of discourse in the last months of a desperate campaign for political office. You certainly don't expect it from government leaders," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. "It's the kind of rhetoric you use to grab attention that you don't already have."

Most top-ranking Republicans dodged questions Thursday about how the speaker's remarks were affecting their attempts to deflect blame for the government shutdown and sell a skeptical public on what critics call a stringent balanced-budget plan.

The national Republican chairman, Haley Barbour, for example, merely said he was disappointed whenever Republicans were not talking about balancing the budget and other GOP priorities.

Some of the rank and file were more direct.

"Get off the airplane thing," advised Rep. Bill Zeliff, R-N.H. Added Rep. Sonny Bono, R-Calif., "Nobody should take these issues personally."

Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. …

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