After challenging Teamsters President Sean O’Brien to a fight Tuesday during a Senate hearing, Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) suggested that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring back canings and duels.
Appearing on Fox Business Network, Mullin criticized O’Brien over some of his tweets about him. The union chief, for instance, wrote in June that Mullin was a “clown” and “fraud.” “You know where to find me. Any place, any time, cowboy,” he added, along with the hashtag “#LittleManSyndrome.”
“You can’t continue to do this stuff. Too many times people get real tough on a keyboard because of social media, but when they get called on it, they actually may learn lessons,” Mullin said on The Bottom Line. “So maybe he learned a lesson, because afterwards he was backpedaling, saying ‘Hey listen, this is what I meant: let’s go grab a cup of coffee.’”
After referencing his experience as a wrestler and mixed martial artist—he said he “fought a lot of guys in the cage”—Mullin said he was confident that O’Brien “won’t run his mouth to me again.”
For his part, O’Brien said in a CNN interview a few hours prior that Mullin was “focused on being a bully,” adding: “We definitely were brought up differently.”
Of the incident, Mullin sought to normalize it—by citing the duel culture of pre-Civil War America.
“This isn’t anything new,” he insisted, claiming that Andrew Jackson “challenged nine people to a duel when he was president and he also knocked one guy out at a White House dinner.”
It’s unclear where Mullin obtained those figures.
“There have been canings before in the Senate, too,” Mullin continued. The most infamous one was in 1856 when pro-slavery Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat abolitionist Rep. Charles Sumner, who was seriously injured and did not return to the Senate full-time until three years later.
“Maybe we should bring some of that back, and, you know, keep people from thinking they are so tough, and make us sit at a table so we could actually work out our differences without poking at each other and want to run at cameras and call people names,” Mullin said.
“Maybe if we had some type of respect because we know there’s going to be some kind of consequences for your actions, then maybe we could move on with this, I don’t know, jargon that happens in this place.”
Mullin’s willingness to fight wasn’t the only confrontation in Congress Tuesday, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly “shoved” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), one of the eight Republicans who had voted to remove him as House Speaker last month. McCarthy has strenuously denied the claims.