So Long, Newt

Great leaders see the larger picture and the greater possibilities of the offices they hold.

Franklin Roosevelt saw the larger possibilities of the presidency, and he used them to rescue a nation in economic depression.

Ronald Reagan understood that being president was more than running the government, and because he did, he was able to put a smile on the face of a nation that had been down in the dumps too long.

Lesser men do not always see the bigger picture but come to see themselves as larger than the offices they hold.

Newt Gingrich made that mistake.

In the beginning he had big ideas and big plans for his party, and they were not all bad. But vision gave way to self-importance.

It was all right for him to take ethical short cuts, because he was the speaker, after all, not so no-name congressman. He began to complain about respect, accuse the president of slighting him because he once got a bad seat on Air Force One and said that was one of the reasons he shut down the government.

It all came crashing down on him last week when Republicans lost seats in Tuesday's election and turned on him. They threatened to throw him over the side as he had threatened to throw an earlier generation over the side if they did not step aside when he wanted to become speaker.

So he's out of there.

The man who saw himself as a transformational figure in American politics may turn out to be no more than a figure in transit.

So long newt, we hardly knew you.

Reported by Bob Schieffer
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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