Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was front-and-center during the Republican-led impeachment of President Clinton in 1998, is cautioning his GOP colleagues about the risk of appearing to be too eager as they dig into the scandals now dogging the Obama administration.
"I think we overreached in '98 — how's that for a quote you can use?" Gingrich told NPR's Mara Liasson for a story on Friday's broadcast of Morning Edition.
Now, says Gingrich, Republicans should proceed with caution. "They need to be calm and factual," he said. "For example, a [House] subcommittee ... should invite every single tea party, conservative, patriot group that was messed over by the IRS — every single one of them — to come in and testify, so that they build this deadening record of how many different people were having their rights abused by this administration."
The first such hearing, with the now-axed former head of the IRS, is set for this morning.
As we've been reporting, the Obama administration is faced with:
-- The IRS scandal, which involves the singling out of some conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
-- First Amendment-related objections about the seizure of Associated Press journalists' phone records.
-- Continued scrutiny over its response to the attack on Americans last September in Benghazi, Libya.
Gingrich's view about how Republicans should proceed echoes those expressed by other GOP leaders in a piece published Thursday evening by Politico:
"Republicans are worried one thing could screw up the political gift of three Obama administration controversies at once: fellow Republicans.
"Top GOP leaders are privately warning members to put a sock in it when it comes to silly calls for impeachment or over-the-top comparisons to Watergate. They want members to focus on months of fact-finding investigations — not rhetorical fury."
Earlier this week, The Washington Post's The Fix blog wrote that:
"Talk to any Republican political strategist about whether GOP leaders should spend their time talking about the terrorist attack in Benghazi or the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservatives and you will get a unanimous answer: IRS."