Friday, March 9, 2007

Newt Gingrich - How the Mighty Have Fallen

My One Encounter with Newt Gingrich
Kevin Shrum

On July 21st, 1998, I was invited to open the U.S. House of Representatives with prayer. It was a high honor to open such an esteemed, deliberative body with prayer. My wife and I looked forward to the experience as we traveled to Washington D.C. Our brief trip to D.C. would prove to be an incredible learning experience in more ways than one.

On the actual day I was to open with prayer I asked the question - 'Would Speaker Gingrich be in 'his chair?' I knew from watching C-Span that the Speaker is a busy person and cannot always preside due to meetings and scheduling. In this case, he/she will appoint a "Speaker for the Day." Fortunately, Speaker Gingrich was 'in his chair.' I prayed. Immediately after opening ceremonies concluded, Mr. Gingrich, along with me and my wife, followed by a large entourage, walked to his office. We spent nearly an hour with Mr. Gingrich, Rep. Bob Clement and even met some diplomats from Communist China. It was thrilling.

Gingrich told me that he had just written a new book but that it had not been released yet. He said that he would send me a copy once it arrived. We parted company impressed with Speaker Gingrich's kindness and generosity. I seriously doubted he would remember to send me a copy of the book. Yet, I appreciated the thought.

Several weeks later a package arrived with a signed copy of Speaker Gingrich's book. I received this package on the same day Speaker Gingrich had to resign from office because of personal impropriety. I looked at my wife and said, 'Oh, how the mighty have fallen.' The irony of the moment was not lost on me. Just a few weeks prior we had been the guest of one of the most intelligent men (a Ph.D. in History, author, Professor, political mastermind) ever to hold one of the most powerful offices in the world. Now he was resigning in disgrace.

Sadly, the old saying, 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,' is absolutely true. This is why personal accountability is essential. So much for my one encounter with Speaker Newt Gingrich.

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