International Relations chair should go to Hyde

By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted December 11, 2000

There is a third race for a Chairmanship in the House of Representatives which has great importance for the nation. As is the case with the other two contests (Ways and Means and Armed Services) the outcome will be important as to how George W. Bush will conduct his presidency (should this election eventually prove as such.)

Term limits have forced Rep. Ben Gilman of New York to step down as Chairman of the International Relations Committee. In his three terms as Chairman, Gilman has been largely non-controversial. Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, who has been Chairman of the Banking Committee, has also been term limited. He is interested in International Relations and has the seniority to fight for it. But his views are so out of sync with the majority of House Republicans that he is unlikely to get the position. A much greater threat is Nebraska Congressman Doug Bereuter.

Bereuter embraces the New World Order but disguises his embrace in such a way that he is able to sell it to many of his colleagues. Reportedly they were enthralled with his presentation before the Steering Committee, which has been holding hearings this past week, even though the vote for committee chairmen will not take place until January.

Henry HydeThe candidate who has stepped forward to rescue the nation from this potential debacle is none other than Henry Hyde, who has just stepped down after three terms as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Hyde had been intending to retire following his historic role in the impeachment of President Clinton. But leftists threatened to drive him from office so he wasn't about to let them do that. He ran and won by his usual impressive margin and intended to be a backbencher for his final term. But then senior Members, including some in leadership, fearful for the country, approached him and pleaded with him to allow them to put his name in the hopper for International Relations. He reluctantly agreed.

But now it is up to him to sell himself and his vision for the future of the Committee to the Speaker and the Steering Committee. That wasn't part of the bargain when he got back into the mix.

Still and all, this is the Member who rallied the Congress in support of the Contras when others were fearful of doing so. This is the Member who speaks with such moral authority as he has done with the partial birth abortion issue that he has managed to get two-thirds of the House behind him again and again, despite President Clinton's active opposition and despite the fact that Republicans only narrowly control that body.

Henry Hyde, when it came to the things that really mattered, was there for the country. He would be there again to rally the nation when the chips are down. If the leadership is thinking right about this decision then it will twist whatever arms are necessary to make Henry Hyde Chairman of International Relations. If President, what George W. Bush may lack in foreign policy experience, Henry Hyde can help fill in the blanks. What Jesse Helms may not be able to pursue because of diminished physical capacity, Hyde will be able to take up. Hyde has lost nothing of his golden-tongued ability to present things in ways that ordinary Americans can comprehend.

The Republicans have the chance to choose between the New World Order in Bereuter and the traditional American order in Hyde. They will be judged accordingly.

Paul Weyrich is president of the Free Congress Foundation.

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