Great Moments in #Senatehate (Cannibalism Edition)

Yesterday will be remembered, if at all, for two especially traumatic events: The Senate, as per custom, suffered a total meltdown and scrapped its spending bill (the one they’d been working on for the last year). And an Amtrak train en route to Philadelphia was delayed for 10 hours, without power and in freezing temperatures, leading Stephen Tschida of New York’s ABC 7 to live-tweet the worst day of his life. Sample tweet:

“God, I’m this close to crying again. I NEVER cry. Just want out. This might be a life-changer.”

And another“1 man grabbed intercom demanded answers. Another started screaming we have 2 get home. Now total silence.”

But what if the two situations were somehow combined? That is, if a train full of Senators were delayed for hours without power and no end in sight? If you’re thinking, “They’d probably eat at each other, but not before engaging in frustrating demonstrations of comity, decorum, and procedure” well, Mark Twain’s got your back—he envisioned this exact scenario more than a century ago. Enjoy:

“MR. HALLIDAY of Virginia: ‘I move to further amend the report by substituting Mr. Harvey Davis of Oregon for Mr. Messick. It may be urged by gentlemen that the hardships and privations of a frontier life have rendered Mr. Davis tough; but, gentlemen, is this a time to cavil at toughness? Is this a time to be fastidious concerning trifles? Is this a time to dispute about matters of paltry significance? No, gentlemen, bulk is what we desire—substance, weight, bulk—these are the supreme requisites now—not talent, not genius, not education. I insist upon my motion.’

“MR. MORGAN (excitedly): ‘Mr. Chairman—I do most strenuously object to this amendment. The gentleman from Oregon is old, and furthermore is bulky only in bone—not in flesh. I ask the gentleman from Virginia if it is soup we want instead of solid sustenance?

I yield.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now
  • Tim Murphy

    Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at