Political Animal


December 21, 2011 10:10 AM They should watch ‘Braveheart’ to the end

By Steve Benen

In July, when House Republicans were prepared to crash the global economy on purpose, they took inspiration from a movie clip. It was a scene from the movie “The Town” in which Ben Affleck’s character said, “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later — and we’re going to hurt some people.”

It was, in the words of one right-wing lawmaker, a scene that helped “forge a sense of unity” among House Republicans.

This week, these same unhinged GOP lawmakers had a different movie in mind. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said this week, “Look, this is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace. Let’s rush to the fight.”

The “fight,” in this case, was blocking a middle-class tax cut and unemployment benefits a few days before Christmas. Dana Milbank marveled at the nonsense.

House Republicans, on the eve of Tuesday’s vote denying tax relief to 160 million Americans, huddled in a conference room in the Capitol basement for more than two hours…. Turns out they were talking Monday night about their favorite scenes from “Braveheart.” About 10 House Republicans went to the microphones to share their memories of the Mel Gibson film, Republican sources told my Post colleagues Paul Kane and Rosalind Helderman.

One member spoke about the apocryphal scene in which the 13th-century Scottish rebel William Wallace ordered his troops to moon the English. Another member recounted the scene in which Wallace commanded the rebels to hold their positions before raising their spears against the charging English cavalry.

This inspired the assembled lawmakers to chant: “Hold! Hold! Hold! Hold!”

Americans who voted Republican in the 2010 midterms? Congratulations, you elected lunatics to run the House of Representatives.

The “Braveheart” comparison is hopelessly ridiculous. Not only did the Scots lose, but Republicans are the wealthy, powerful elites trying to punish working-class families during tough economic times.

Milbank added that House Republicans would “rather make a point than govern the country. And in this case, it’s not entirely clear what point they’re trying to make.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • stormskies on December 21, 2011 10:18 AM:

    Americans who voted Republican in the 2010 midterms? Congratulations, you elected lunatics to run the House of Representatives.


    Right, and these lunatics are but a symptom of a larger cause, and that cause is the lunatics called the American citizens who voted for them in the first place.

  • ComradeAnon on December 21, 2011 10:18 AM:

    Literally and figuratively showing their asses. Or maybe it's another latent sexuality moment. Yeah, that's probably it. Wonder which member of the House mentioned that?

  • T-Rex on December 21, 2011 10:18 AM:

    Let's not forget also that the English rulers of Scotland instituted "ius primae noctis," which gave the English lairds sexual rights over any women in their feudal territory. The idea was to "breed out" the Scottish and replace them with English stock, which in retrospect is hilarious, since DNA evidence proves that they're virtually the same stock. The problem facing the British was that the Scottish identified themselves as a different nationality, and guess which nationality the sons of those abused women would consider to be their own? NOT English, it's safe to assume.

    Still, it makes you wonder how irony-deficient a group of people have to be to side with the group that wanted to give women control over their own bodies and their own reproduction against the group that wanted to take those rights away from them in order to assert patriarchal supremacy.

  • chi res on December 21, 2011 10:20 AM:

    EWWW! Just got a mental picture of all those old, white wrinkly, saggy asses! YECKKKK!

  • SYSPROG on December 21, 2011 10:21 AM:

    Guess they should've been watching It's a Wonderful Life.

  • Stevo on December 21, 2011 10:23 AM:

    Actually, the Scots win in the end. Battle of Bannockburn.

  • jcricket on December 21, 2011 10:24 AM:

    So Boehner is their William Wallace?

    Do they know how things ended for WW?

    I wonder if ol' John of Orange felt about having his head on a spike?

  • jcricket on December 21, 2011 10:25 AM:

    *how*...not if!

    more coffee please

  • c u n d gulag on December 21, 2011 10:28 AM:

    And in that crowd, I wonder how many of these Republicans "Braveheart's" would you find who, you know, actually went to war, or served in the military?

    Gingrey was 25 years-old at the height of Vietnam, and yet, I'm at a loss to find this "Braveheart's" military record!
    Shocking, I know.

    Something tells me that the closest he came to battle was with a sibling, and that he only decoration he ever got on his chest, was from 'the order of the double-cheeseburger and fries' when the ketchup dripped on his shirt.

    I'm just glad they didn't all rise up and scream, "WOLVERINES!?
    At least "Braveheart" was a decent movie.

    And I'm surprised that Mel Gibson hasn't decided to run as a Republican for Congress - lord know's he's hateful and racist enough!

  • Todd for VT House on December 21, 2011 10:29 AM:

    Which inappropriate movie will be next? Life Is Beautiful? Carrie? Reservoir Dogs?

  • Ron Byers on December 21, 2011 10:36 AM:

    Think about it, our elected congressmen and women are sitting around a conference table taking inspiration from a movie over a fight with the Senate? Wow, the lunatics really have taken over.

  • Gandalf on December 21, 2011 10:39 AM:

    REALLY!! The movie Braveheart was about the oppressed (the Scottish) Fighting the oppressors (the English) for crying out loud. These people are bent.

  • T2 on December 21, 2011 10:48 AM:

    this Braveheart crap just underscores the fact that we now have children running the House of Reps. Consider how hate-filled and plain stupid the voters are who elected these buffoons to Congress. And then consider that one of them is probably your neighbor, or fixes your car, or works the next office over from you. Scary times.

  • Steve P on December 21, 2011 10:51 AM:

  • TheOtherJim on December 21, 2011 10:52 AM:

    The "Braveheart" comparison is hopelessly ridiculous.

    See, I took this to mean that they wanted Boehner disemboweled and drawn and quartered.

  • Caffiend on December 21, 2011 10:54 AM:

    Congress is full to the brim of Michael Kelsos. He thought parents ought to be cool and let kids do whatever they want, like Lord of the Flies.

  • Todd for VT House on December 21, 2011 11:02 AM:

    "this Braveheart crap just underscores the fact that we now have children running the House of Reps."

    Then hopefully they'll watch Shrek or Toy Story.

  • BillFromPA on December 21, 2011 11:13 AM:

    Their movie isn't 'Braveheart' it's 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'


  • exlibra on December 21, 2011 11:36 AM:

    The “fight,” in this case, was blocking a middle-class tax cut and unemployment benefits a few days before Christmas. -- Steve Benen

    I hope you'll continue to point out the timing, because it's important -- talk about "war on Christmas"!

    It also reminds me of a different story, this time a true one. In the late November of 1970, the Polish party (communist in reality, thought named "united workers party") chief, Wladyslaw Gomulka, decided to, significantly, raise the food prices (in pre-'89 Poland, all prices were set by the government and were the same across the country). Just in time for Christmas, when people, who normally spent 50% of their income on food, tended to spend even more.

    Needless to say, people didn't like it and strikes, although forbidden, broke out across the country, with the most fiery ones taking place at the Gdansk shipyards (which, 10 years later, were also the birthplace of the Solidarity movement).

    On top of the police, the government sent the army, with live ammunition, to disperse the crowds. People died on both sides of the conflict (a police station was burned and the cops trying to escape were thrown back in) and the strikes continued. On Dec 20th, Gomulka "retired", a new party chairman (Edward Gierek) was installed, and the prices were rolled back. They did go up, eventually, but incrementally and during the summer, when the difference was less immediately obvious.

    Taking money away from people during the Christmas season, when the spending is higher than the rest of the year, is the ultimate in stupidity. Americans are less likely to go into violent mode than people in authoritarian countries -- we have the safety valve in the ballot box, which most people still trust, while they have nothing to lose -- but if I were a politician, I wouldn't push this (trust in non-violent methods of disposal) too far, even so.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 21, 2011 12:28 PM:

    T2: "Consider how hate-filled and plain stupid the voters are who elected these buffoons to Congress. And then consider that one of them is probably your neighbor, or fixes your car, or works the next office over from you. Scary times."

    What's really scary is how silent the voters who elected these ass-hats have been since their choice representatives have decided to show their asses. I'd really liked to see the posters and signs the teabaggers could create to justify this hot mess. I'm sure they've got some Obama w/Hitler-stache signs just itching to come out of the garage storage bin to support the cause...

  • Peter C on December 21, 2011 12:34 PM:

    The problem is that the House Republicans see themselves in a movie (any movie) and not as a part of reality. Sadly, only the 1% can get away with this; for the rest of us, reality intervenes.

    This is a game to them. They will work hard to maximize their personal gain from our economy (and their wealth ensures that their gains will automatically fall in an acceptable range). But, for us in the 99%, the economy (and the results of the actions of Congress in this Great Recession) is vitally important.

    The Republicans have scorned and suppressed any capacity for 'empathy', so they cannot and will not feel our pain.

    They've signed on to a 'competition' model of government and ruthlessly, shamelessly and gleefully pursue their own individual interests, thinking all the while that (like financial arbitragers) their maximization of self-interest is needed to make a working system.

    They pretend to represent their constituents, but they limit this representation to social issues (which they never fully 'solve' since that would put an end to their usefulness). For economic issues they represent themselves and the companies which donate to their campaigns and will hire them as consultants when they leave government.

  • slappy magoo on December 21, 2011 12:40 PM:

    The movie that most immediately comes to mind is Dr. Strangelove.

  • TCinLA on December 21, 2011 12:45 PM:

    I don't know what it is about fundamentalists, but the movie "Braveheart" is a Big Deal among them. A few years ago, wives were buying broadswords of the same variety used in the movie, as presents to their husbands, for hubby to hang on the wall as symbol of his "headship" of the family (further proof that fundamentalism is a form of mental illness).

    That a bad movie written by a Republican hack (who also wrote the godawful "Pearl Harbor" and wrote and directed the even-worse "We Were Soldiers") and starring a renegade-Catholic anti-Semite would be such a favorite of these morons is definitely an insight into just what whackjobs they are.

    Even the Wall Street Journal is whacking these mostly-Southernist radicals for having "re-elected Obama" in the Journal's own words. I love it, the way Southernists always turn themselves into losers - which they have done very well this week.

  • clevergirl on December 21, 2011 2:00 PM:

    Republicans...At war with their own people.


  • John in TX on December 21, 2011 2:10 PM:

    The movie that most immediately comes to mind is Dr. Strangelove.
    slappy magoo on December 21, 2011 12:40 PM

    A great film; however, not quite an apt comparison because with the exception of General Ripper and Buck Turgidson, the other characters in "Strangelove" were at least moderately sane and trying to handle a major crisis. These juvenile assclowns we're dealing with in this situation are some of the dumbest and most immature people on the planet. Can anyone imagine, for nightmare's sake, any of these clods in the House dealing with a nuclear standoff scenario? We'd all be dead for sure. Truthfully, there really is no precedent, filmed or otherwise, for the amount of sheer inanity, idiocy and outright assholishness we've seen in the last 24 hours from these GOP imbeciles.

  • ump902a on December 21, 2011 4:14 PM:

    The current crop of conservatives looks at "The Greatest Generation" and they imagine themselves bravely going to war although they actually skipped out when given the chance. This makes their every battle The War to Save Civilization and they look to screen heroes to inspire them as they have no real heroes among them. (Exception for John McCain).

  • Just a guy on December 21, 2011 4:42 PM:

    Let's see, they like the scene of the Scots mooning the English? I get it!

    I do see a strong resemblance between the Republican caucus and a field of lily white a--holes.