Odd man out

October 03, 1990

When President Bush told the nation last night that the budget deficit is "a cancer gnawing away at our nation's health," he was right. When he said "Tonight, the Democratic and Republican leadership and I all speak with one voice in support of this agreement," he was dead wrong.

The reason: Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, the No. 2 Republican in Congress, is fighting the deficit-reduction agreement tooth and nail.

Gingrich's reversion to ideological zealotry -- indeed, fanaticism is not too strong a word -- means that the most serious budget in a decade is now in grave danger of defeat.

If this were a parliamentary democracy, Gingrich would have been summarily fired, even driven from his party for opposing the national leader on an issue of such profound consequence. We are not a parliamentary democracy, but there is a line where party discipline must be exerted, and this is one of those times. By participating in the budget negotiation, then kicking over the table when he didn't like the outcome, Gingrich has forfeited his right to hold a position of party leadership.

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