Saturday, January 28, 2012

Steve Largent honoring the Contract With America

I heard this story today and found it compelling. I should say I think Politico leans left, and I really don't think a whole lot of Joe Scarborough. When I've had the chance to watch or listen to his commentary, he doesn't seem very conservative to me. The story he relates at Politico, however, is about honor, and gave me a profound respect for Steve Largant.
In 1997, ten of my fellow classmates had led a coup attempt against Gingrich, shutting down the House over the speaker’s efforts to violate the Contract with America by swelling the number of committee staff members.

Conservative stalwarts like Steve Largent, Tom Coburn and Matt Salmon joined me and seven others to demand a cut in spending and a promise to hold firm on tax cuts.

Newt did not take the rebellion lying down. He immediately summoned the sergeant of arms to drag the 11 rebels down to a Republican caucus meeting in the bowels of the Capitol basement, where Newt lined us up in front of a packed room of seething House members who were now missing the first day of their Easter recess because of our insurgency. Gingrich then began screaming and demanded that the 11 of us account for our behavior.

He then taught me a political lesson I will always remember: Never willingly hand the microphone over to your enemies. Especially when the first rebel to speak was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame and one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Men Alive.

As Steve Largent grabbed the microphone, the crowd of GOP members was still shouting insults. But by the time he stood behind the podium, even our most hostile opponents grew quiet.

Steve spoke softly about how he signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks and remembered shaking the hand of the team’s owner after the deal was done. A few years later, the NFL Players Association went on strike. But Largent told the mob, who were now transfixed, that he crossed those picket lines because he signed a contract and gave his word. Largent told the group that a few years later, the NFL players went on strike a second time and he was once again one of the few NFL players to keep reporting for work. For Steve, it was a matter of principle.

The beautiful NFL Hall of Famer then quietly moved in for the kill.

Turning to the Speaker, who a year earlier had been named Time Magazine’s person of the year, Largent said, “Newt, you were the one who drafted the contract and then told us to sign it. Now, you’re the one pressuring us to break it. But Newt, if I wasn’t intimidated by the thought of 250 pound linebackers who wanted to kill me every time I crossed the field, why would I be intimidated by you?”

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