Tuesday wasn't exactly a run-of-the-mill day in the world's once-great deliberative body, the U.S. Senate. During a hearing about standing up to corporate greed, 46-year-old Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma challenged Teamster president Sean O'Brien to a fight, telling him, "Stand your butt up."
O'Brien responded, "You stand your butt up, big guy." At which point it fell on octogenarian Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chair of the Senate HELP committee, to step in, telling Mullin, "Sit down!" The fracas ensued for several minutes before Sanders regained control of the hearing.
Sure, it was high on entertainment value, but the most newsworthy takeaway from the Senate melee was the way in which it mirrored the playbook of MAGA Republicans in the House.
Mullin later tweeted a video of the exchange, writing, "In Oklahoma, if you run your mouth, you get called out. Period."
Later that day, Mullin was invited on Newsmax to "talk about standing up to thugs who hold our economy hostage," as Carl Higbie, host at the right-wing outlet Newsmax, put it.
Next comes Mullin's 48-hour fundraising blitz, which he will later brag about.
This is the play that House Republican members such as Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, and Marjorie Taylor Greene specialize in:
Say nasty thing to lib, own the lib.
Grab video of it.
Tweet video of you owning the lib, saying you owned the lib.
Fundraise off the clip of you owning the lib.
Achieve MAGA tough guy hero status.
Find next opportunity to own the lib.
Naturally, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, being the ace that he is, washed his hands of the entire episode rather than demanding a higher code of conduct from his caucus—or really anyone.
“It’s very difficult to control the behavior of everybody who’s in the building. I don’t view that as my responsibility. That’s something the Capitol Police will have to deal with,” McConnell told reporters of Mullin's chest thumping routine.
Apparently, Republicans have gotten quite comfortable with the Capitol Police cleaning up their messes.
And if you're wondering how the Senate ended up here, look no further than the so-called leadership of McConnell, who traded the entire Republican Party to Donald Trump for the promise of winning several Senate election cycles.
Unfortunately, McConnell's bet went south in 2022 and, in 2024, Trump remains perfectly capable of dooming Senate Republicans again.
In the meantime, congressional Republicans have become the butt of America's jokes and the Senate Republican conference will be overrun by MAGA wingnuts in a handful of years just like the House GOP caucus.
Donate now to stop Republicans from snatching the Senate!
Republicans are challenging labor leaders to fights and allegedly physically assaulting one another. Donald Trump says he will abolish reproductive rights entirely and is openly calling for the extermination of his detractors, referring to them as “vermin” on Veterans Day. The Republican Party has emerged from its corruption cocoon as a full-blown fascist movement.