A popular story told about the House of Representatives is that a freshman Democrat declared that a Republican across the aisle was his enemy. A House colleague told the freshman Representative that “Republicans are the opposition and the Senate is the enemy.”
“The Republicans are the opposition and the senate is the enemy” was cited in print in 1990. “The Democrats aren’t the enemy. They’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy”—reversing the parties—was cited in 2007. Al Swift, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from the state of Washington from 1979 to 1995, is sometimes credited for saying this, although it’s not known who originated it.
Wikipedia: Al Swift
Allan Byron Swift (born September 12, 1935), an Emmy award–winning broadcaster, served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 1995. He represented the Second Congressional District of Washington as a Democrat.
Governors and Legislatures:
By Alan Rosenthal
Washington, DC: CQ Press
A member of the Washington house relates that when freshmen Democrats are oriented they are told that the Republicans are the opposition and the senate is the enemy.
Change and Stability in the 1990s
Edited by James A. Thurber and Roger H. Davidson
Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.
The deliberations of the Joint Committee also were influenced by bicameral tensions that increased during 1993. As Democratic representative Al Swift said, “Republicans are the opposition, but the Senate is the enemy.”
Google News Archive
9 November 2000, Ocala (FL) Star-Banner, “Partisanship means closely split Congress” by Adam Clymer (N.Y. Times News Service), pg. 9A, cols. 3-4:
But that was an entirely different era, when lawmakers drank and golfed together and blunt partisanship as seen in today’s attack ads was almost unheard of. A widely recalled saying of the time was a senior Democrat correcting a freshman whocalled House Republicans the ‘enemy.”
The elder Democrat explained: “Republicans are the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
The West Wing—an unofficial transcript archive
THE WEST WING
“THE LEADERSHIP BREAKFAST”
Season 2, Episode 11 (January 10, 2001)
WRITTEN BY: PAUL REDFORD
DIRECTED BY: SCOTT WINANT
There was a freshman democrat who came to Congress 50 years ago. He turned to a senior Democrat and said, “Where are the Republicans? I want to meet the enemy. The senior Democrat said, “The Republicans aren’t the enemy. They’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.” Those days are over. Toby, in this climate…
An Old Joke
APRIL 22, 2007 11:55 AM
This past week reminds me of an old joke.
A Republican freshman representative is talking to one of his floor leaders about a bill. He calls the Democrats the enemy. The floor leader responds:
“Son. The Democrats aren’t the enemy. They’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
The American (American Enterprise Institute)
Our Broken Senate
By Norman Ornstein
From the March/April 2008 Issue
As George Washington knew from the get-go, the slow pace and individualist nature of the Senate would drive the more action-oriented House of Representatives batty. And it has, regularly and consistently. One of the most battle-tested anecdotes, which I first heard in the 1970s from former Representative Al Swift (D-WA), is about the freshman House member who refers to a member of the other party as “the enemy.” A more senior colleague says, “No, he is just a part of the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
The Weekly Standard
House Democrats Know Their Enemy
Channeling the ghost of Tip O’Neill.
2:02 PM, MAR 4, 2010 • BY JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Michael Barone writes:
“Remember the old Tip O’Neill story: after an aide referred to the House Republicans as “the enemy,” O’Neill corrected him. “The House Republicans are not the enemy, they’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
“They’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.” #utpol #utleg pic.twitter.com/0Jq841vGY8
12:09 PM - 10 Mar 2014
Washington (DC) Post
Why taking over the Senate may not do Republicans much good
BY PAUL WALDMAN March 17, 2014
There’s an old story about a freshman member of the House who is getting shown around by a senior member on his first day, and the freshman asks about the other party. “I want to meet the enemy,” he says. “No, son,” says the old bull, “they’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Sunday, July 06, 2014 • Permalink