Calling the Bully’s Bluff

February 15, 2008 12:26 p.m.

A Democratic Hill aide checks in:

I can’t remember which show it was – something like the Brady Bunch – where the protagonist is being picked on by a bully and at a certain point lashes out and inadvertently bloodies the bully’s nose (and ends the bully’s tyrannical reign, etc). It seems that the House may have inadvertently done just this. In the face of an all-too-familiar pattern of administration fear mongering instead of cowedly acceding to the administration’s wishes (and tacitly reinforcing the effectiveness of the administration’s fearmongering) the House seems, through something other than a concerted response, to have stumbled into a situation where they have bloodied the administration’s nose. Short of cancelling his Africa trip and spending all of next week demagoging this issue, I don’t see how the admin keeps their credibility on this. A line has been crossed.

I’m not a pop culture aficianado, but I think it was a Brady Brunch episode. In any event, bullying is precisely what the Bush Administration has done to cow Democrats. I’m not yet convinced that we have crossed the Rubicon in terms of Democrats punching the bully in the nose. But even if we have, what took so long?

Late Update: We’re having a Brady Bunch v. A Christmas Story throwdown in the emailer comments. Here’s TPM Reader DM:

It’s definitely possible that The Brady Bunch had an episode where one of the boys bloodied a bully’s nose, but I’m reasonably confident that the reader is thinking about “A Christmas Story,” where Ralphie finally snaps at all the taunting he is receiving from Scut Farkus, attacks ol’ Scut and beats the crap out of him.

Later Update: The Andy Griffith Show fans are making a late push. Writes TPM Reader JR:

Sorry, but the best example in sitcom land of a bully getting a blackeye is the “Opie and the Bully” episode No. 33 of Andy of Mayberry. In fact, it is far more relevant to the current House-White House showdown than the Brady Bunch. Opie had previously been giving the bully his milk money whenever the bully demanded it. Andy tells Opie a story about how Andy had faced down his bully when he was younger and how even when the bully hit him, it didn’t hurt. So, Opie refuses to give up his milk money the next day, takes a shot from the bully (which he doesn’t feel) and punches out the bully, who runs home crying.

Pop Culture Arcana Update: TPM Reader SS does the honors:

In that Brady episode, Peter doesn’t bloody Buddy Hinton’s nose, he knocks his tooth out, giving Buddy a lisp much like the one he mocked Cindy for having.

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