During a commercial break on MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” after a discussion about GOP presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich yesterday, former Senate staffer and lobbyist Jimmy Williams dropped an interesting tidbit about the former speaker of the House that I’d forgotten. John Boehner and Dick Armey were part of a failed coup to oust Gingrich from his leadership post atop the Republican majority in 1997.
A piece by Brian Bolduc at the National Review Online recounts the events of July 10-11, 1997. That was when frustrations within the diminished Republican majority and its weariness with Gingrich’s leadership style came to a head with an attempt to oust the erratic speaker. It failed. Boehner would eventually lose his post as chairman of the Republican conference in the House. Armey, who was the House majority leader, would also lose his.
And look at them now.
Boehner is now the House speaker. He might not have total control over his caucus, but as the leader of the GOP establishment, the man from Ohio still has his hands on some of the controls. Armey is the not-so-quiet force behind the Tea Party, which is the energy of the Republican Party.
Both could make Gingrich’s life a living hell during the primary fight and the general election by squeezing him from opposite sides if the self-proclaimed transformational historical figure from Georgia surmounts significant challenges to snag the nomination. Add to that the daily morning megaphone now in the hands of another person who participated in the 1997 effort to bounce Gingrich, former representative Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.). Yesterday, the host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” peeled the skin off Gingrich — again. Some of his choice words for the current GOP front-runner included “erratic,” “undisciplined,” “train wreck” and “a danger to America.” That’s on top of the damning column in Politico on Monday in which Scarborough called Gingrich “a man who is an ideological train wreck and the worst manager this side of Barack Obama.”
If revenge is a dish best served cold, Gingrich better prepare for extra helpings.