Funny in retrospect

In 1957, the US Senate was talking about a voting rights act, the future Civil Rights Act of 1957. (Don’t worry; just because I can quote it by name doesn’t mean I know anything about it.)

Mr. Johnson of Texas, the Senate majority leader — who would seven years later be the President, ordering pants — spoke, saying:

We do not desire to have a vote on the bill until every Senator has had an opportunity to express himself, and we do not wish to take advantage of any Senator, or inconvenience any Senator more than is necessary.

Shortly after those unfortunate words, one Strom Thurmond of South Carolina began to express himself. He was not happy about the proposed legislation, and though no-one else rose up to share his delusion, he did not stop.

He spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes. (Concluding words: “I expect to vote against the bill.”)

Then the matter moved on again.

That’s a magnificently, gloriously spiteful bastard course of action, if you ask me. If you put it in a novel, people would complain about it being much too weird. Then again, that’s politics, that’s America, and that’s the world.

(You can see the relevant 88 pages of the Congressional Record, too. I wonder if anyone’s ever compiled a book of “the funniest bits of the Congressional Record” — I reckon it could be done. Then again, sometimes I think about the various live feeds of parliaments, Finnish or American or other, and think that with a few more camera crews you could get a show to rival Big Brother out of them. First the public speeches, then the private griping. And the bathroom cameras!)

One Response to “Funny in retrospect”

  1. Iason Ouabache Says:

    Congress can be a very weird place. As the rules stand right now any Congress critter can stick around and give a speech after the session is done for the day. There have been some really doozies from those aftersessions over the last couple of years.

    Alan Grayson (D-FL) has had some hilarious ones in the year and a half he’s been in office. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota has done some really really wacky ones too. There’s plenty of footage of both of them on YouTube and C-Span. If you want some good old school crazy go look up James Traficant. He just got out of prison last year.

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