Following the non-nailbiter of a Senate vote to hand over all of the money to the GOP muggers in exchange for raising the debt ceiling and allowing summer vacation to begin, the always optimistic Harry Reed revealed some really encouraging news - Congress is not broken! Booyah!
"What we have gone through has been extremely difficult, but there was never any consideration the Republic would fall," Reid explained, demonstrating that he had a pretty high threshold on the not-broken standard. "Now, taking the long view, you can look back at 1856. Boy, that was one fucked up Congress. In 1856, there was a congressman from South Carolina by the name of Preston Smith Brooks, and truth be told, he was a bit of a redneck. Probably in modern times he would be affiliated with the Tea Party, but that's just speculation on my part. Anyway, like most southern congressmen of the time, he was pro-slavery."
"At the time, there was a Massachusetts senator by the name of Charles Sumner, and as you might guess from the geography involved here, he was anti-slavery, staunchly so. Well one day, he was giving a little speech and he mentioned Brooks by name, saying that he had taken "a mistress who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight - I mean, the harlot, slavery." This made Brooks pig-bitin' mad, because if there's one thing that he took great pride in it was never going out with ugly chicks, and he vowed he would avenge this wrong."
"He did. Brooks found Sumner writing at a desk in an almost empty Senate chamber, and confronted him. Harsh words were spoken, but really, not all that many, because after just a few he commenced knocking Sumner upside the head with a gold tipped gutta-percha cane. I don't know how many of you have seen one of those, but take my word, it's not something you would want to be assaulted with. Absolutely not. Well, Sumner fell down and got his head trapped under a desk, but Brooks kept beating him with the cane, everything but his head. Brooks finally got up, only to pass out in a pool of his own blood. He never did really recover from the attack, and even when he was able to return to the Senate three years later he was always extremely skittish."
"Now I know what you're thinking, why didn't anyone try and stop this brutal beating. Several did try, but they were stopped by a friend of Brooks, another redneck South Caroling congressman named Lawrence Keitt who kept them at bay with a pistol. And what action did Congress take against Brooks for his egregious actions? Not expulsion, not censure, but a measly little three hundred dollar fine."
"Then, of course, a few short years later, Congress broke down completely and we had a war that was anything but civil. I think that's a very instructive bit of history. As polarized as Congress my seem now, you need to remember that it could always be even worse."
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