Where is Preston Brooks When We Need Him?

Surely you recall Preston Brooks, (D-South Carolina) a member of the US House of Representatives who took a cane to Senator Charles Sumner, a party switching abolitionist from Massachusetts? In response to a speech that used sexual innuendo and mocked the physical handicaps of Brooks’ uncle,  Brooks beat the Senator so severely it took Sumner nearly three years to recover. The incident was used to portray southerners as violent brutes, increased tensions between north and south and cost Brooks a $300 fine. Georgia named a County after him.

"Sir, your libel and calumny have earned you a smack!"


Now, no one should advocate violence against members of Congress, even if they are calling your uncle a whoremongering, stuttering cripple, or libeling your state, or even if they deserve it for some other good reason. It’s bad form and probably a federal crime. But there are times when one may wish the ghost of Preston Brooks would stalk the halls of today’s Congress delivering open-handed smacks upside the head to members who engage in irresponsible, unproductive blather that serves to merely make the other side mad. This week’s nominee for a visit from the ghost of Preston Brooks is Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens.

"I would like to invite you to my swearing-in ceremony."


In the midst of an increasingly shrill debate about our federal spending,  Broun has introduced legislation to lower the debt ceiling.

Today, I introduced a unique bill that goes in a completely different direction than everything else we’ve been hearing out of Washington. It would force politicians to start practicing what they’ve been preaching by lowering the debt ceiling from $14.3 trillion back down to $13 trillion. Admittedly, this is not your run-of-the-mill kind of law, but it would make it imperative for Congress to think outside of the box and come up with ways to pay off a portion of our debt while drastically cutting back spending.”

Democrats have responded to Broun’s bill with calm, rational arguments about the financial consequences of passing such a law, and have offered solutions of their own that include deep spending cuts and modest tax increases. Just kidding! They’re attacking him and calling him “idiotic,” “moronic” and a “troll.” The ghost of Rep. Brooks would surely be busy.

"Well, I kind of had it coming."

I will admit that Broun’s proposal is most definitely not your “run-of-the-mill kind of law,” but the author of any proposal that tries to force Congress “practice what it preaches” and to “think outside the box” probably deserves a head-smack just for overusing cliches.

There’s been so much overheated rhetoric about this debt ceiling I’m beginning to think it’s just fiction, made-up words about things that don’t really exist, like the “cost” of tax cuts, or the “value” of the US dollar. And Broun admits that his own bill would not actually lower the debt ceiling today, but “force” politicians to “make decisions” by “setting a deadline.”

Force politicians to get serious and make decisions? Oh, Rep. Broun, you kidder, you!

Where’s my cane?



  1. Toxic Avenger says:

    To our credit, the man we are calling a blathering idiot did just deliver these rousing remarks during a prayer on the Fourth of July:

    “Father, there are many who want to destroy us from outside this nation. Folks like al-Qaeda and the radical Islamists. But there are folks that want to destroy us from inside, the progressives and the socialists, who want to make this nation a nation that’s no longer under you, under God, but a nation that’s ruled by man.”

    • Hmm, I read about something related to that, what was it? Oh yeah, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Seems like Americans get to pray to whoever they want and in whatever way they would like.

      • Toxic Avenger says:

        Well there is that whole separation of church and state thing, and though there’s nothing inherently illegal about it, it’s still considered uncouth to pray against your political opponents.

        But that’s not the point. You’re criticizing Democrats for maligning Broun when this is a guy who, in the same breath, compares al Qaeda and Democrats, saying that the latter, too, wants to “destroy” America.

        • I believe my criticism was bi-partisan and aimed at those who employ rhetoric that merely serves to make the other side mad. If it’s a contest between your side and Rep. Broun, I honestly can’t tell who’s winning.

  2. cheapseats says:

    Paul Broun wants to take away our freedoms! Again!
    Pick your favorite “ist” to attach to his name – ’cause he’ll do it to you everyday.

  3. 22bons says:

    Preston Brooks? Seriously? His caning of Sumner is the most cowardly and shameful act in the history of the US Senate.

    It’s a shame he lacked the wisdom of Georgia’s own Benjamin Hill who spoke freely and rightly viewed a resort to violence as evidence of poor character:

    “I regard dueling as no evidence of courage, no vindication of truth, and no test of the character of a true gentleman. I shall be a ‘braggart, liar and poltroon’ enough, now and forever, to declare that what the laws of God and my native State unite in denouncing as murder, could give me no satisfaction to do, to attempt or to desire. This determination is but strengthened when the contrary course involves the violation of my conscience and the hazard of my family, as against a man who has neither conscience nor family.”

    • “Most cowardly and shameful act in the history of the US Senate?” Hmm. Was it as bad as letting a woman drown in a car? I’ll let the moral equivalence historians debate that. Besides, Brooks was a member of the House. And a Democrat.

        • When someone says “most cowardly act in the history of the US Senate” it’s not “really really cute,” to bring up Chappaquiddick, it’s really really appropriate. After all, Sumner lived, and went on to make Reconstruction a living hell for southerners. But as I said, which act was “the most” cowardly is for others to debate.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            “Sumner lived, and went on to make Reconstruction a living hell for southerners.”

            Consider what happened when Sumner died. No more Reconstruction. No additional federal Civil Rights legislation for another 80 years. Jim Crow and segreation resplacing state reconstruction civil rights legislation.

            Mike, your remarks were brief. I certainly don’t know your heart. But the the backhanded defense of Brooks by changing the subject to Teddy Kennedy, then slamming Sumner for a decade of Reconstruction that was bookended by a couple hundred years slavery before, and 70 years of Jim Crow afterward, are remarks that steer non-white people away from the GOP tent.

  4. griftdrift says:

    I’ll say it even though I’m not a Democrat. Broun is idiotic and moronic.

    It’s about time that some Republicans will even brush up to the idea that you’ve got your own Cynthia McKinney on your hands.

  5. sunkawakan says:

    Perhaps the Republicans will be successful and avoid increasing the debt limit. I sure hope so, since the fallout will insure no Republican is ever elected again.

    Warren Buffett, a rich dude for which I have a modicum of respect, says they’re “playing with fire.” Bernanke doesn’t like the idea of using the debt limit as a political tool. I’ve seen others say the market will tank, and China is really pissed at the possibility.

    Eric Cantor will benefit if the US defaults, though. He’s “invested in a fund called ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT,” which specialized in shorting Treasury securities.

  6. sunkawakan says:

    I would be willing to pay a $300 fine to smack several politicians with a stick. Would probably start with Buzz before moving to Broun.

    • “Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system!”
      Buzz is one of the most accessible legislators Georgia has, and is willing to engage people on all sorts of debates in all kinds of forums. He’s completely upfront about his beliefs and his philosophy, and is always willing to explain why he votes the way he votes.
      You’re an idiot.

  7. sunkawakan says:

    Why thank you, Mike. I’ll take that as high praise from one such as yourself.

    I’m not talking about Buzz being accessible, I don’t agree with anyone who cleaves to Paul Broun’s idiotic philosophy. If you agreed with Broun, I’d pay to smack you as well.

    • More threats of violence from the left. “Help, help! I’m being repressed!”
      Brooks paid his fine in 1857. What’s $300 in 1857 in today’s dollars?
      And please note, I semi-humorously noted that some may wish the ghost of Preston Brooks would visit Congress to deliver “smacks upside the head,” NOT beatings with canes. I even provided a link to a video demonstrating the types of smacks.

      • sunkawakan says:

        Well, bless your heart for being repressed. I thought your piece was hilarious, and certainly your best effort to date.

        On the serious side, the debt ceiling has long been a favorite topic for political discourse. And as an evil, violence-prone, socialist, progressive liberal, I look forward to seeing the end game with this one.

      • cheapseats says:

        +10 for Holy Grail quotes!

        So, back to work…I’ve found some lovely filth over here.

      • Duke says:

        Mike, Mike, Mike…The appropriate response to Sunkawakakan’s response of “I’d pay to smack you as well” should have been, “Hell, I’ll let you try it for free!” People like that hide behind their keyboard and type crap that they would never say to anyone’s face… when they take the time to wipe the Cheetos off of their fingers, anyway.

  8. Sumner was a vicious, ideological ass. Brooks’s act was not the act of a gentleman, but a bully. The story goes that Brooks would not challenge Sumner to a duel because Sumner was not a gentleman – about the only things Brooks got right in the whole affair.

    Congress may be less violent now, but is certainly as vile. When I see our elected officials (e. g. Harry Reid) lie – yes, I am using the word “lie” because it is appropriate – with impunity to the American people again and again it makes me want to vomit.

    Preston Brooks and Charles Sumner can both stay buried. If you want someone to come back, look to those who debated using facts and put their country above politics. Surely there are some who fit that description.

  9. sunkawakan says:


    And our Congressional representatives should be willing turn to fisticuffs when necessary. I’d be willing to bet that Patty Murray could take Paul Broun down, and Barbara Mikulski could best Louie Gohmert any day of the week.

    Just think of the jobs that could be created solely on those kinds of Congressional antics.

    • I’d be willing to bet that Patty Murray could take Paul Broun down, and Barbara Mikulski could best Louie Gohmert any day of the week.

      If low IQ and sheer ugliness were weapons . . .

  10. sunkawakan says:

    Oh, self-righteous indignation.

    “If low IQ and sheer ugliness were weapons . . .” Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  11. sunkawakan says:

    Ken, perhaps it’s a lack of faith in the skills of our legislators, and the deliberately manipulated ideological divide that is the reason for my attempts at (very) dark humor. If this period of rhetoric doesn’t end, I’d rather watch them “duke it out” in a steel cage. And your self-righteousness that spurred your defamation is laughable.

  12. sunkawakan says:

    Hmmm. I suppose I chose to interpret it as an attack, although with the context added for Murray (I only hope her call to Koch was a joke) and Mikulski (she’s really a lovely woman when you know her)…no apology necessary.

  13. John Konop says:

    It is estimated that decriminalizing drugs would save tax payers close to 40 billion a year. The revenue side of taxes on marijuana is over 30 billion a year. Also not factored in the study is the production of people working producing tax revenue and the lack of ability to find a jobs via having a record in the millions instead of draining resources for them and or their family.

    When you combine all of the above this could be as much as 100 billion on year in combined savings and or tax revenue a year. I wonder if Paul Broun supports this idea or the endless failed “War on Drugs”?


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