Here's Brian Williams on last night's NBC Nightly News talking about the death of Tom Foley:
Beneath the Capitol Dome, present day, in the House chamber today, a rare honor afforded to very few in our history, specifically those who serve as Speaker of the House. In memory of former Speaker Tom Foley, who died last week, today the Speaker's chair and desk were draped in black, the gavel resting upon it. His portrait was also draped in black. Foley was a Democrat from Washington State, proud of his work as a conciliator. Let's just say he served in a different era.Yeah, that was such a different era:
A few days before he became speaker, a scandal erupted over a Republican National Committee memo entitled "Tom Foley: Out of the Liberal Closet" and comparing the Spokane Congressman to openly gay Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank. An aide to Newt Gingrich, then the House Republican whip, encouraged reporters to look into the sexuality of Foley, who had been married since 1968. President George H.W. Bush eventually condemned the memo -- though he stood by RNC Chairman Lee Atwater, a longtime aide.More:
Karen Van Brocklin, one of Gingrich's top staffers, spread false rumors that Speaker Tom Foley was gay in an unsuccessful attempt to get the media to cover the story. Larry Sabato, author of Feeding Frenzy, observed that Van Brocklin was "particularly aggressive" in spreading the rumors. Van Brocklin told a New York Daily News reporter, "We hear it's little boys." ...Foley lost his speakership when an unknown named George Nethercutt beat him for his House seat in the Gingrich/Contract with America Republican wave election of 1994, which was not exactly a campaign full of sweetness and light.
Gingrich refused to fire Van Brocklin.... He claimed that she was merely asked by a reporter if there were stories around about Foley's personal life, "and she stupidly said yes." But the Los Angeles Times discovered that Gingrich was lying: several reporters said that Van Brocklin "had brought up the subject of Foley's alleged behavior with at least three news organizations and had tried to get them to publish stories on the subject by claiming other newspapers were about to do so."
Yes, every obituary of Tom Foley says that he worked extremely well across the aisle. But he did not "serve in a different era." He served at the dawn of the godawful era we're living in now.
Brian Williams might have mentioned that. But he'd rather have you believe that what's troubling politics today is a temporary fever, and not the GOP's standard operating procedure for at least a quarter of a century.