Amid the productive House speaker deliberations this weekend came a bizarre altercation between Matt Gaetz and Mike Rogers, a couple of Republican congressmen on opposites sides of the McCarthy squabble.
A C-SPAN peek at the House floor showed a frustrated Kevin McCarthy approaching Gaetz after the Florida representative had sunk McCarthy’s 14th attempt at securing the speaker’s gavel. But it was only when McCarthy walked away that his heated ally Rogers made a move toward Gaetz and was physically restrained, complete with a hand to the face.
Here’s the full “Fight Night” clip, if you missed it:
As of Monday, McCarthy is officially speaker, Rogers and Gaetz appear to have “hugged it out,” so to speak — and, surprise, surprise, the media are aghast at the “complete meltdown.” Depending on which outlet you consult, it was a “wild lunge,” a “dumpster fire,” a “literal floor fight,” and “the defining image of the new Congress” (it was none of these things).
But if brawls on the House floor were the status quo of the new Congress, would that be so bad? Frankly, the whole kerfuffle was kind of pathetic and undoubtedly overblown; Rogers didn’t “lunge” at or “attack” Gaetz so much as take a halfhearted step toward him and get theatrically pulled away. But one could argue Washington would actually be a much better place with more fistfights.
We live in quite a confused world when it comes to masculinity, strength, and conflict. Men are excoriated for their manliness and brute impulses and are then left on their own to seek out the Jordan Petersons in a world of Liver Kings and Andrew Tates. The same armchair class that spends its days hyperventilating about the loss of norms and decorum is the first to undermine them. And the biggest drama queens about Trumpian crassness are the sickos at the Lincoln Project and Human Rights Campaign.
Bonchie at RedState made what should be an obvious point, but is nonetheless a good one, that it would be nice to see this kind of Republican fire directed at far-left opponents, not just each other, every once in a while. “When is the last time you saw a member of the GOP get that animated over yet another omnibus bill being forced down their throats? Or at watching a gun control bill pass against their will? Or at seeing a Democrat Speaker of the House strip their colleagues of committee assignments while ignoring bad behavior from the left?” Bonchie wrote.
But more than just a little prudence about where to direct their fire, perhaps the men in Congress would have better luck getting things done if they dislodged their thumbs from their arses and threw some hands. I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much.
There’s something refreshing and healthy about the way men fight: If a frank exchange of words doesn’t do the trick, a quick hook to the jaw gets the message across and the job done. But it’s not only that; men who fight well respect men who fight well. Unlike bully-in-the-schoolyard tropes, when clashing men who respect each other put up their dukes and fight out their differences, mature ones have a way of dusting themselves off, shaking hands (literally or figuratively), and walking away with the chips once on their shoulders left behind somewhere in the dirt. This was precisely what happened after Gaetz and Roger butted heads.
One could argue that fistfighting isn’t very Christ-like. But there’s certainly a biblical case to be made for corporal punishment, to the point that when Jesus saw greedy businessmen scheming to make a quick buck by exploiting the holy temple, He aggressively overthrew their table and drove them out with whips.
Of course, we aren’t talking about punishment here. But reasonable people can make a case for striking somebody in certain scenarios, like if a thief is attempting to pick your pocket, a jerk says something unsavory about your wife, or someone tries to take advantage of your child. Now imagine that pickpocket is a lawmaker cleaning out the pocketbooks of unwitting taxpayers, that jerk is some opponent smearing the good men and women you represent as “deplorables,” and that someone is a co-worker beholden to the mutilative transgender lobby.
Morally and philosophically, I reject physical violence, but I can’t help but notice that of all the ways sinful people manage their intense disagreements, men getting into a fight and then quickly making amends has got to be one of the best out there. Not only does it head off more intense evils and uncontrolled violence, but it also teaches kids, especially boys, that there are worse things than getting popped in the mouth. Being afraid of bullies is no way to develop the kind of desirable masculinity that welcomes a fight if it’s necessary to defend the weak.
Instead, men in Washington tend to do something far worse than fight — and that’s do nothing at all. Like women of low moral character, they avoid conflict to the point of resentment, gossip, and endless tiffs. And like spineless men, they shirk away from their responsibilities to fight for what’s right, thus sacrificing those weaker than they to blood-lusting opponents.
It’s easy to pat yourself on the back for decorum, principles, and “turning the other cheek” while you let tyrants muzzle toddlers and fire unvaccinated employees, butchers carve up confused kids, ideologues disincentivize fatherhood, and bureaucrats ship poor workers’ money to a corrupt regime overseas. If that’s what conflict avoidance looks like, there’s nothing defensible about it.
And in the swamp, that’s exactly what it looks like. Maybe Gaetz and Rogers were on to something.