Politics Needs More 'Aliveness'

Aug 13, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Like all young suburbanite kids who possessed little to no real athletic talent didn’t feel the desire to chase a ball up and down an expanse of grass, I took martial arts. Tae kwondo to be specific.—-

There I learned how to pretend to ride a horse, how to yell really loud when I threw a punch at an imaginary opponent and how to run up and down the gym pretending to fight fictitious foes. I quit after a few weeks when I failed to earn my white belt with one yellow stripe.

Like many martial arts schools, mine lacked “aliveness.” That is, we did a whole lot of pretend fighting and man dancing, but not a whole lot of snot-knocking. There’s only so much you can learn and so prepared you can be if your training isn’t alive.

Aside from martial arts schools, there are many other areas in life that lack aliveness. Like politics.

Now I’m not knocking the process of enlightened debate that occurs in the U.S. Congress, but imagine how much more effective the political process would be if it were a little more “alive?” And I’m not talking about some pasty, overweight octogenarian member of the British Parliament calling another one a “sex-starved boa constrictor,” or shouting lewd suggestions about his mother, but fucking judo throws on the Senate floor.

Politics would be a lot more effective with judo throws. And maybe people would actually watch C-SPAN. Who wouldn’t want to see Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein and Jean Schmidt throw down in a cage match? (Can you say, “sexy?”)

Now despite the softness, doughiness and occasional boniness of congressmen nowadays, the U.S. Congress wasn’t always full of pandering, spineless jackasses.

Andrew Jackson wasn’t called “Old Hickory” because of his wood-paneled hatchback. It was because he carried around a hickory cane with which he would beat the shit out of people he didn’t like. He was the first president to have an assassination attempt against him; an attempt in which both of his would-be assassin’s pistols misfired (probably because they were fucking scared of him). Jackson proceeded to beat the assailant within an inch of his life, and it took three of his aides to pull him off.

The mother of all alive “discussions” in Congress took place in 1856 and involved Democratic Sen. Preston Brooks speaking with his cane.

Charles Sumner gave a speech comparing slavery to a harlot, likening Sen. Andrew Butler (a kinsman of Brooks) to Don Quixote for supporting it and making fun of Brooks’ physical handicap — he walked with a limp after taking a bullet to the hip in a duel. I’m cool with A and B, but you do NOT make fun of a man who, for fun, stands in front of another man while they take turns shooting at each other.

Brooks consulted friend and fellow Sen. Laurence Keitt about challenging Sumner to a duel, but Keitt assured him that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing. Dueling Sumner would be like dueling a drunkard.

Taking Keitt’s words to heart, and not wanting to look like a pussy in front of his cronies, Brooks confronted Sumner two days later. He said, “Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine,” and proceeded to beat Sumner over the head with his cane until the cane broke. When other senators tried to intervene, Keitt pulled out his gun and told them to back the fuck off and let them handle it like men.

And it looks like we Cincinnatians got a little aliveness in us too. Tired of hearing Eric Deters talk shit on WLW, Sgt. Larry Shelton accepted an invitation to an MMA cage fight.

Now if we could only get Laketa Cole and Leslie Ghiz into the ring…