Bringing Down the House G.O.P. Guerrilla

Newt Gingrich rides a surge of voter anger, but where does he want to go with it?

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If Gingrich is coy about what he has in mind in the way of specific policies for the next two years, the Clinton Administration is also scrambling to devise a new agenda. As Administration official puts it, "Everyone has the first sentence down: We have to move to the middle. But no one knows what to say after that." For now the White House is looking for an occasion that will allow the President to make a strong, centrist speech soon after the election to place himself alongside voters demanding change.

If Clinton has trouble finding the middle, however, that's no surprise to Gingrich, who intends to keep moving it to the right. "For the short run," he predicts, "we've got to fight it out until one side or the other wins. After it's decided which side has won, then you recreate the middle." What he imagines that center will look like is still an open question. Beneath the free-floating anxiety of voters is the real fear that the middle class is losing ground and that government has failed to help them regain it. Not much that Gingrich has proposed so far goes to the heart of that problem. If Republicans fail voters too, his revolution could leave his party vulnerable to attack by Ross Perot or some other still unformed third force that promises to do the job that they have not. Over the next two years, Gingrich may have the power to bury the Democrats in the debris of Congress. His problem will be / to make sure that his own party isn't undone by what he undoes.


CREDIT: From a telephone poll of 1,000 adult Americans taken for TIME/CNN on Oct 25-26 by Yankelovich Partners Inc. Sampling error is plus or minus 3% Not Sures omitted

CAPTION: If the election for Congress were today would you vote for the Democratic or for the Republican candidate?

Are you satisfied with what Congress has accomplished this year, or do you wish it had done more?

Who is more responsible for today's gridlock in government?

Which do you favor more?

Do you oppose passing an amendment requiring the Federal Government to balance the budget if it may result in higher taxes or cuts in spending programs such as Social Security?

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