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Walk in Rosty's shoes, not his style

WITH Dan Rostenkowki's forced resignation ... as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, a lot of people sounded the death knell for President Clinton's health reform bill. They don't believe Mr. Rostenkowski's successor, Florida Congressman Sam Gibbons, is up to the demanding job of shepherding the bill through Congress. It's now up to Mr. Gibbons to prove his critics wrong....

Ironically, Rostenkowski too had his share of skeptics when he was tapped as Ways and Means chair in the early 1980s. They said he was too much of a rough-and-tumbler. Today, many of them are among the misguided bunch on Capitol Hill who are lamenting Rostenkowski's departure....

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Indeed, the best way that the 74-year-old Gibbons can shut up disbelievers is to quickly demonstrate that he has been wide awake the past 13 years as the person next in line to succeed Rostenkowski.

Surely he's smart enough to resist the temptation to project himself as a Rostenkowski type. It won't fly. Yes, there is a lot to be said for Rostenkowski's ``whip 'em into shape'' style. But Gibbons probably wouldn't be effective emulating it.

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