Question: “Is Congress like the Kilkenny Cats?”
Updated from “Churchill and the Kilkenny Cats,” 2012… A Churchillian friend who has written to her Senators writes: “This brief video by Senator Rand Paul is a good example of why the United States Congress has only a 10% approval rating.
“Who is in charge in the clattering train? The video explains why the Congresshumans are an insult to the American people.” (Senator Paul, on a point of order, was demanding extra time to read a 600-page Senate bill scheduled for an up or down vote in eight hours.)
I’ve given up on the U.S. Senate, myself. (And lately, the House of Representatives with it.) I’m glad somebody is still writing them letters.
Churchill invokes the Cats of Kilkenny
Naturally there is a Churchill quotation which suits the habitual behavior of the United States Congress. (There is a Churchill quotation for just about everything.) Speaking in the House of Commons on 18 March 1912, young Winston remarked:
We must expect that in a fleet battle between good and efficient navies equally matched, tremendous damage will be reciprocally inflicted…. Indeed, the more we force ourselves to picture the hideous course of a modern naval engagement, the more one is inclined to believe that it will resemble the contest between Mamilius and Herminius at the Battle of Lake Regillus, or the still more homely conflict of the Kilkenny cats. That is a very satisfactory reflection for the stronger naval Power. It will always pay the stronger naval Power to lose ship for ship in every class.
From Churchill by Himself, pages 226-27: “The Battle, possibly mythical, was described in Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome, which fascinated WSC as a boy. It was a Roman victory, led by Mamilius over Herminius and the Etruscans, possibly between 509 and 493 BC.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes a Kilkenny cat as ‘one of a pair of cats fabled to have fought until only their tails remained.’ Hence the phrase describes ‘combatants who fight until they annihilate each other.'” (The cats were from County Kilkenny, Ireland)….
There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many.
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails
Instead of two cats there wer’n’t any.