Wednesday, November 15, 2023


It looks as if the entire Republican Party needs to be put in the time-out chair -- former House speaker Kevin McCarthy has been accused of deliberately elbowing a fellow House Republican in the kidneys, House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer said in a hearing that a blue-suit-wearing Democratic colleague who had criticized him "look[s] like a Smurf," and Oklahoma senator Markwayne Mullin, a former business owner and mixed martial arts fighter, challenged a witness at a Senate hearing to a fight because the witness had criticized and baited him on Twitter.

Senator Mullin was, of course, given the reward every Republican in Congress receives after a viral act of toxic masculinity: an appearance on Fox News prime time. Sean Hannity awarded the accolade:
Hannity told Mullin his popularity with the people of Oklahoma would “probably go up tenfold” due to the altercation.

“He called you out. You called him out for calling you out. And that’s kind of old school the way it used to be,” he told the senator.
It's not "the way it used to be" in the Senate, unless you think the brutal caning of anti-slavery senator Charles Sumner in 1856 was the Senate's high-water remark.
Hannity also recalled getting into fistfights almost every day with his friends when playing sports as a child...
Almost every day? Seriously, dude?
... and wondered why that kind of behavior is frowned upon these days.
I'm sure you can guess what word is coming.
“You know, when all of a sudden did we become that woke that the thought of two people, one responding to a threat directly, saying ‘OK, you threatened me. Here’s your opportunity. Take me up on it?’” he added.

According to Mullin, “It’s political correctness.”
"Political correctness"! Wow, that's old school.

The witness, Teamsters president Sean O'Brien, is not entirely blameless here:
Mullin read aloud O'Brien's original tweet at the hearing Tuesday: "Greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self made. In reality, just a clown & fraud. Always has been, always will be. Quit the tough guy act in these senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy."

The tweet also said "#LittleManSyndrome" and showed a photo of Mullin at a debate where he was standing on a pedestal at a podium.
But when he challenged Mullin to a fight, that wasn't a threat. He didn't say, "I'm coming to get you." He challenged Mullin (who didn't have to rise to the bait), and he did so on a social media site that's now a grimy back alley in a bad neighborhood.

Mullin is a member of the U.S. Senate. Mullin is supposed to have some respect for the institution.

But that great patriot Sean Hannity is fine with Mullin's outburst:
Then, Hannity upped the machismo, telling Mullin he believes “any other response kind of would have been a little gutless.”

Mullin added, “If I didn’t do that, people in Oklahoma would be pretty upset at me... I’m supposed to represent Oklahoma values.”
Fox News has always been like this. It was like this two decades ago, when Bill O'Reilly was the channel's biggest star precisely because he viciously attacked the people he disagreed with. But if you remember the mainstream-media take on Fox at the time, it was that Fox was a normal news organization, if perhaps a smidge to the right, and while its commentators could occasionally tiptoe two over the line, the channel overall was a serious purveyor of reliable information. Republicans fully embraced Fox, while Democrats and the rest of the media mostly gave it the kid-glove treatment, even as it became increasingly toxic.

And that's how we became a country where a Trump presidency became thinkable, and behavior like Senator Mullin's came to be seen as admirable.

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