As one of the best of the Democratic Party's comeback kids for 1996, McGovern can get a serious rise out of any collection of the fellow-minded by intoning a truism: "To dump Newt you have to dump Blute."
Truisms are, first of all, true. The first vote by a congressman that matters every two years selects the House speaker. The go-along acolyte, Peter Blute, will choose Newt Gingrich. Jim McGovern, in his heart, would want Tip O'Neill, but Dick Gephardt will do just fine as a stand-in.
But what makes McGovern's challenge serious, worthy and important is that this richly experienced political and legislative figure -- with clout and respect down here that minor angle-players like Blute couldn't achieve in a lifetime of well-funded incumbency -- is that he understands the fundamental inadequacy of Gingrich-centered politics.
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