Fight Club is so back — and this time it’s in the halls of Congress. First rule of congressional fight club: throw down in front of the media.
Representative Tim Burchett exploded onto the national scene when he joined with seven House Republicans and every House Democrat in throwing Speaker Kevin McCarthy out of his leadership position. Now, he’s claiming that McCarthy sucker-punched him in the kidneys. Representative Matt Gaetz in turn lodged an ethics complaint against McCarthy for “assaulting” Burchett.
McCarthy claims Burchett is making it up and that any contact was unintentional and merely the result of tight hallways. McCarthy also has the eyewitness account of Representative Bruce Westerman, who said, “I don’t doubt that people got bumped into. But I don’t think there was any kind of intentional shot to the kidney.” But to bolster Burchett’s claim, journalists noted that former representative Adam Kinzinger claimed in his book that McCarthy shoulder-checked him twice in the halls of Congress.
Burchett is making other powerful enemies as well. Senator Markwayne Mullin, a former professional fighter, just kicked the Carhartt-clad congressman out of his workout group because he allegedly couldn’t be trusted.
Mullin, however, has his own schoolyard brawl to deal with. He was ready to throw hands with the Teamsters Union’s president on Tuesday, after reading aloud a taunting tweet: “Quit the tough guy act in these Senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, Anytime cowboy,” the union boss tweeted at Mullin. The Republican senator, who is a proud member of the Oklahoma Wrestling Hall of Fame, stood up and began sliding off his wedding band before Democratic senator Bernie Sanders called for a ceasefire.
It’s not just Republicans who like attacking each other; last month, Democratic representative André Carson threatened to fight Representative Josh Gottheimer over Israel. “We can handle it like gentlemen or we can get into something else,” he suggested.
So far, none of these threatened fights have actually materialized, much like Tyler Durden!
On our radar
BIDEN MEETS XI During their meeting at an APEC summit in San Francisco, President Joe Biden will reportedly press Chinese president Xi Jinping to curb his country’s exportation of deadly fentanyl.
TRUMP TRIUMPHS A Michigan judge ruled that former president Donald Trump will remain on the ballot for the GOP presidential primary, striking down efforts from left-wing groups to remove Trump under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause.
OFF THE RAILS Journalist Aaron Maté found himself seated on the same Amtrak train with New Jersey senator Chris Coons and took advantage of his luck by peppering the Democrat with questions. Maté repeatedly demanded to know if Coons would support a ceasefire in the Israel-Palestine conflict until Coons got fed up and had him thrown off the train.
Haley hunting down anons
During a recent Fox News appearance, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley laid out a proposal to ban anonymous accounts on social media, saying, “Every person on social media should be verified by their name… first of all, it’s a national security threat. When you do that, all of a sudden people have to stand by what they say.” Haley said getting rid of anonymous users would also lead to greater “civility” on social media.
Haley’s scheme seems to ignore that people have all kinds of legitimate reasons for being anonymous on the internet. Plenty of people, particularly conservatives, have lost their livelihoods after the online mob decided their views were unacceptable. Some people simply don’t want their political opinions to be confused with those of their employer. As Haley’s opponents, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis, pointed out, the Founding Fathers wrote the Federalist Papers under pseudonyms, in part because they wanted their arguments tested on their own merits rather than on the value of the name attached to them.
Historically, anonymity has been used to safely express opposition to popular ideas and powerful people. Cockburn, who obviously has no personal stake in this matter, imagines Haley’s proposal wouldn’t fare well in a legal challenge given the unfortunate existence of the First Amendment. No wonder, then, that the presidential hopeful has already flip-flopped, telling RealClearPolitics’s Phil Wegmann: “Americans have a right to free speech including having anonymous accounts on social media.”
Congress watches Hamas horror
In a movie screening unlike any other, Democrats and Republicans both watched the brutal footage recorded by Hamas terrorists on GoPros as they raped and murdered their way through southern Israel on October 7.
As some elected Democrats ponder forcing Israel to have a ceasefire with Hamas terrorists, a cross-ideological swath of elected officials came face-to-face with an evil so enormous that some, like Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, left under five minutes in with tears streaming down their faces.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most vocal proponents for a ceasefire, was also spotted with visible tears after leaving the screening. It’s not clear if watching the footage has changed AOC’s position on the conflict.
Other members of Congress spoke openly about the horrific attack and how it affected them. When Representative Darrell Issa left the screening, he compared the “war crimes” to scenes he witnessed at the Birkenau extermination camp. Representative Bill Huizenga told The Spectator it was “very hard to digest,” adding that the footage filmed by the gleeful terrorists “isn’t a video game. It isn’t a movie. This is real. And disgusting.”
Many of their colleagues watched the footage while on a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Israel. The footage was shown on the same day that hundreds of thousands of pro-Israel Americans rallied for Israel just blocks from the halls of Congress.
Senators will have the opportunity to watch footage themselves tomorrow — as will Capitol Hill reporters, for whom Representative Josh Gottheimer is hosting a screening.