We may think that all this mean talk today in politics is all new, but it isn’t. It has been around for quite a long, long time. There are so many stories much like what we hear today, and even worse, and others were downright creative. Let’s begin with a creative story. In 1950 George Smathers was running against Claude Pepper for the US Senate. In Smather’s campaign speeches he’d say strange things about Pepper, like Pepper is “known extrovert,” he’d say things like this with such contempt, that the audience thought this Pepper guy must be bad for them. Another time he said that Pepper’s brother was a “practicing homo sapiens.” Another time he said, that Pepper “practiced celibacy before marriage.” Huh? Again he’d say silly stuff like this emphatically and with scorn that he convinced the audiences that Pepper sucked, and he was the man. Well it worked because Smathers won. People…who can figure us out?
Then there was the Long brothers back in the 30’s. Sibling rivalry is bad enough at home; it gets worse when brothers are running against each other in the political world. Earl Long called a political opponent, “a big-bellied, lily-livered liar and the crookedest man who ever lived,” he was referring to his brother Huey Long. One time Earl got so pissed off at his brother he called him a “son of a bitch,” not thinking twice of the implications. Earl, that isn’t a nice name to call your momma. Earl also had a tactic on getting his message out when he ran for office. He’d follow his opponent around and plant himself in the audience where the opponent was speaking. He’d yell out from the audience to inspire spontaneous debate. This allowed Earl to control the agenda for discussion, and got his message out on his opponent’s dime. This really backfired one day for Earl though. His brother Huey Long was running for senate and was speaking at a rally where his sneaky brother was part of the audience. Huey was proudly telling the people of his state what he had done for the state of Louisiana, when out of the crowd someone yelled out, “I know one person you ain’t done nothin’ for—your brother!” Earl replies, “I done something for you, Earl. He continues, “I built a big mental hospital down at Jackson and I had them reserve a room for you.” LOL! These two brothers eventually worked things out, and sadly one, Huey who became a presidential contender, was assassinated in 1935. Ah no, not by his brother.
The Longs were not the only brothers to have it out in the political world. Jimmy Carter’s worse nightmare was his beer guzzling brother, Billy. Billy was a drunk and was constantly embarrassing the peanut farmer, turned president. One incident of the many led Jimmy to finally put his brother on a plane to Georgia for good. Billy decides to relieve himself on an airport runway in front of the Washington press corps! Now that’s telling Washington he’d didn’t give a sh*t huh? LOL
In 1856 during the height of the slavery debate, Representative Preston Brooks, of South Carolina didn’t like some remarks made about his family by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. Brooks got so pissed off that he walked into the Senate Chamber and started to beat Sumner with his walking cane! I think Herman Cain would get a laugh out of this one! Brooks later regretted his actions, but not so much for beating Sumner, more about breaking his cane. But was comforted that he at least saved the gold-plated handle!
One of my favorite stories is the one of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt didn’t need a cane; in 1883 he simply decked a Democratic opponent with one punch. When the guy gets up, he punches him again. Talk about how to handle a Democrat! LOL Just kidding guys, just kidding.
There are many more stories like these, I can go on forever. So the next time you hear our politicians duking it out, just remember it’s not new. If anything they are a lot more tamed today, and probably wishing they could turn back the clock.