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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sack the Quarterback

Since the 1970s, both parties in both chambers of Congress have played “sack the quarterback,” targeting the other party’s leaders.

Sometimes, it’s taken the form of trying to defeat leaders for reelection:
  • Democrats tried to oust House GOP whip Newt Gingrich in 1990 and 1992;
  • Republicans beat House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) in 1994;
  • Republicans beat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2004;
  • Democrats tried to defeat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in 2008 and 2014;
  • Republicans went after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2010
Sometimes it’s taken the form of ethics charges:
  • Newt Gingrich trigged an ethics investigation that led to the resignation of Jim Wright in 1989.
  • When Gingrich became speaker, Democrats returned the favor, and he had to pay a hefty assessment. 
  • In 2006, Democrats went after Speaker Dennis Hastert for his failure to stop the House page scandal.  Republicans lost their majority and Hastert stepped down from party leadership.
Sometimes it has taken the form of media attacks:

  • In the 1980 campaign, Republicans ran generic ads against Speaker Tip O'Neill;
  • In 1996, Democrats ran against "Dole-Gingrich;"
  • In 2002, after Senate GOP leader Trent Lott (R-MS) praised Strom Thurmond, Democrats pounced and Lott quit.
Boehner has taken his share of Democratic shots in recent years, but what makes his resignation different is that so many of the attacks openly came from Republicans and conservatives.  If you wanted to hear criticism of Boehner in recent years, you tuned in to Rush: