Seems that in a recent round of hearings on the campaign finance hoo-hah
(also known as the "Glass Houses Hearings"), Representative Dan Burton
of Indiana or Ohio, or one of those other comical Midwestern states, referred to
the President as a "scumbag." Nice to see the Republicans have shed
that stuffy, tweedy, country-club image and replaced it with the kind of
political discourse you usually only find on the "Jerry Springer"
show. Now, of course, the pundits are moaning and groaning about how fine old
traditions of courtesy and respect in politics have vanished.
As usual, the national media seems to believe that human history began
about the time of the Kennedy Administration. The idea of the national
legislature as this polite, civil group is a relatively recent development. Back
in the early days of the Republic, Senators and Congressmen used to say
generally horrible things to one another, spitting on the floor was tolerated,
and the legislators would engage in the occasional fistfight. The most famous
example occurred in 1857 when Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Charles
Sumner of Massachusetts over the head with his cane on the floor of the Senate.
Sumner later died of his injuries. Brooks' supporters, in a heartwarming
tribute, sent him hundreds of new canes with suggestions as to who his next
target should be.
Personally, I'd like to see those days return. I mean, admit it. Wouldn't
you like to see Teddy Kennedy and Newt Gingrich go upside one another's head
with a pair of Louisville Sluggers? I for one would pay serious money to see
that. The only problem would be that it would be sort of like watching Duke play
Clemson-you'd be pulling for both sides to lose. Or how about Dan Burton and
Hillary Clinton in a Cage Match, like on NWA Wrestling? (My money's on Hillary
in that one. She's a little bitty thing, but she's got that look in her eye.)
The sale of the pay-per-view rights alone could pay off a substantial portion of
the national debt. My only misgiving about such a system would be that it might
lead to Arnold Schwarzenegger as a junior congressman from California ("Mistuh
Speakah, point of oah-duh!" WHOMP!) I mean, Bob Dornan was bad enough. You
could replace the Sergeant-at-Arms with that guy from the boxing matches
("Ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. Congress, ARE YOU READY TO
RUMBLE?!") The best part about it is, they'll spend so much time fighting
each other and recuperating, they won't have time to mess with the rest of us.
If this idea ever catches on and spreads to the world of journalism, I got
dibs on Sam Donaldson.
© 1998 Jerry D. Rhoades, Jr.