Ross: Politics is war by other means

Nov 16, 2023, 8:55 AM | Updated: 12:57 pm

Sen. Markwayne Mullin. (Getty Images)...

Sen. Markwayne Mullin. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

We all know that bullies are a problem. It’s bad enough in the classroom, but it’s really bad when that attitude persists into adulthood and plays out among people in important positions.

As happened during that now-famous Senate hearing this week – the confrontation between Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien.

“You want to do it now?” Mullin asked.

“I’d love to do it right now,” O’Brien said.

“Well, stand your butt up then,” Mullin said.

“You stand your butt up,” O’Brien said.

“Oh stop it, you know your United States Senator,” Senator Bernie Sanders said.

Does that remind you of something?

“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room,” the famous Dr. Strangelove quote.

And yet, there’s another famous quote that says: Politics is war by other means. So confrontations like this shouldn’t surprise us, because that’s the whole point of having a Congress– to bring people with deep disagreements together and hope something constructive emerges.

Markwayne Mullin is a United States Senator, a title which implies a level of decorum, but he felt bullied, and wanted to set an example:

“I tell my kids you’re responsible for your words. If you want to be a bully, expect to be treated like that. And you should be able to stand up for other people who are being bullied, too,” Mullin said. “I’m not somebody that’s gonna say we go around and fight all the time. But I will say that every now and then, you do, and he should be taught a lesson.”

He explained in a series of interviews yesterday that he saw Sean O’Brien, head of the teamsters, as a typical online bully.

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And I would note that on his “X” account, Mr. O’Brien has adopted the handle “@Teamsters SOB”– which I suppose could stand for Sean O’Brien, but maybe not.

And the Senator – who was once an MMA fighter – says keyboard bullies like him need consequences.

“I’m not supposed to sit there and absorb it. He needs to be called out for his actions there,” Mullin said. “Fortunately,  I’m capable of doing it, what about the people who can’t? I can do something about it, and maybe I can stop him from doing it again. What are you supposed to do with bullies, ignore him or stand up to it.”

Stand up to ’em! And to his credit, he wasn’t talking about a duel, no weapons – just two men doing what men do to avoid too much thinking.

And after a few bruises, they might have decided all on their own that talking things out would be a better idea after all.

Or not…

“I’m not afraid of biting. I will bite in a fight, I’m going to bite, I’ll do anything,” Mullin said. “I mean, I’m not above it. And I don’t care where I bite, by the way, it’s just going to be a bite.

Okay, I think you’ve made your point.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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