WaPo: The Silencing of Elizabeth Warren and an old Senate Rule Prompted by a Fistfight

Furious that McLaurin was colluding with the other side of the aisle, Tillman used a Feb. 22, 1902, speech on the Senate floor to harangue the younger senator. Gesturing toward McLaurin’s empty chair, Tillman accused his counterpart of treachery and corruption, saying he had succumbed to “improper influences,” according to a Senate history of the dispute.

When McLaurin caught wind of Tillman’s remarks, he rushed into the chamber and shouted that Tillman was telling a “willful, malicious and deliberate lie.”

A fistfight erupted. As Senate historians recounted, “The 54-year-old Tillman jumped from his place and physically attacked McLaurin, who was 41, with a series of stinging blows. Efforts to separate the two combatants resulted in misdirected punches landing on other members.”

From: The Silencing of Elizabeth Warren and an old Senate Rule Prompted by a Fistfight, Washington Post (Derek Hawkins)

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25 thoughts on “WaPo: The Silencing of Elizabeth Warren and an old Senate Rule Prompted by a Fistfight

  1. Offered as an antidote for misty-eyed longings for the days of yore when there was comity and mutually respectful disagreement between the parties.

    Not offered as evidence that things are currently the way we should be willing to tolerate.

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  2. I think the Senate would be a much more interesting place if you could call somebody a liar, but only if doing so resulted in a hearing on the evidence for the accusation. “That’s a lie!” “You called me a liar!” isn’t interesting, but having to crawl through the record and decide what’s true would be a hilarious burden to watch them struggle with. I’d love to see members of congress investigate each other’s behavior with as much vigor as, say, Behngazi!

    Tucked away for future reference: If you nominate senators to positions requiring confirmation, they’ll have a natural advantage in that all discussion must proceed based on the assumption that they’re good and honest people even if it’s not true.

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    • df,
      I think the principle was that she was saying things, repeatedly. and had been repeatedly warned.
      The letter itself was not the particular issue to stand on.

      Credit to Udall and Brown, both generally not grandstanders, for standing on the principle that King’s letter ought to be read.

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      • I have to disagree with this.
        When the Senate comes to where the most productive thing they can possibly do is to sit and have read to them a letter written over 50 years ago, then it is way past time to adjourn for the day.
        If it really needed to be added to the record, there are ways of doing that without wasting so much time.
        I have nothing against MLK. In fact, I believe I’ve read more of his stuff than most people. It’s just that the Senate has other business to attend to than storytime.

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        • Will,
          It is testimony about what he was doing before then, from someone who kept a decent close eye on the fellow.

          I’d expect something like that if anyone tried to nominate Byrd for anything — along with testimony on his reformation.

          Because both of those ought to be up for consideration.

          Thirty years ago doesn’t mean a damn thing, if the person still holds those beliefs. If they don’t, then their supporters should be demonstrating why and how they’ve done concrete things to change.

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