In the Alabama Senate yesterday, Republican state Sen. Charles Bishop actually punched Democratic colleague (and former longtime Senate President Pro Tem, now merely the “power behind the throne”) Lowell Barron squarely across the face. Not only that, but if you watch this version of things, you will see that Bishop was rather unrepentatnt. Two things need to be said. The first, and least important, is that Lowell Barron is a despicable, double-talking throwback to the bad old days of institutionally corrupt backwater legislatures. I’ve sat around a conference table with him and listened to him obfsucate and prevaricate, and I watched for years as he killed every effort at nn-ideological, “good government” reform while pushing a liberal agenda. He does deserve a commupeance, and probably merits a sound thrashing in a fair fight after “stepping outside” in response to a public challenge to settle things like a man.
But (and this is the second thing that needs to be said) what Bishop did wasn’t a fair fight, and it wasn’t outside. It was a sucker punch, in the Senate chamber, a punch thrown because Bishops poor supposedly virgin ears couldn’t bear to hear himself called an SOB. It was outrageous behavior, the behavior of a lout and a coward. In a modern republican (small ‘r’) government, it is not just unacceptable behavior, but destructive of the entire civic order. The Alabama Senate, acting within its authority to discipline its own members, ought to expel Mr. Bishop from the Senate.