Every so often, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy says—meaningfully—that he will have a stern chat with one of his fellow Republican House members.
What kind of offenses prompt such a visit to the principal’s office?
Since last year, the subjects have included: Jewish space lasers, violent anime videos that were tweeted, appearances at white nationalist political conferences, comparisons of COVID rules to the Holocaust, and jokes about Muslim members of Congress being potential suicide bombers.
This week, McCarthy has a fresh case to add to his chat docket: Allegations from freshman North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn that certain unnamed members of Congress are doing coke and going to orgies. The remarks, which Cawthorn made on a podcast last week, have stirred up the QAnon wing of the party yet again, and Cawthorn’s fellow Republicans are peeved that they’re getting bugged about it.
Staffers inside the Beltway will often say that the real D.C. is more Veep, the HBO satire of Washington incompetence, than House of Cards, the Netflix soap opera about a calculating House leader turned president. (I’d say the show that best captures the atmosphere, overall, is C-SPAN’s Book TV.)
But Cawthorn, appearing on the Warrior Poet Society (?) podcast, said House of Cards’ depiction of D.C. as a hotbed of sleaze, sex, and drugs is totally accurate.
“The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington, I mean—being kind of a young guy in Washington, where the average age is probably 60 or 70,” Cawthorn said, “and I look at all of these people, a lot of them I’ve looked up to through my life … then all of a sudden you get invited to, ‘Oh, hey, we’re going to have kind of a sexual get-together at one of our homes, you should come!’ And I’m like, ‘What did you just ask me to come to?’ And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy.”
“Or,” he continued, “the fact that, you know, there’s some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country, and then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine in front of you.”
My first thought upon hearing this was that someone needs to alert the Grand Falcon himself; you can’t just reveal the secrets of the Twelve like this to anyone on a podc—uh, I mean my first thought was what’s he even talking about?
This could have passed as a dumb thing a spiraling member of the House said on a podcast that was forgotten a day later. Happens all the time.
But the allegation has spread enough that members, including GOP members, are getting asked about it by their constituents. That’s when it becomes a problem.
During House Republicans’ weekly conference meeting Tuesday morning, multiple members “stood up to air their anger and frustration over Cawthorn portraying his own colleagues as bacchanalian and sexual deviants,” Politico reports. Among them was Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack, who complained that he’s getting questions about who exactly is doing keys of cocaine and participating in orgies.
“Congressman Womack felt strongly about addressing the comment,” a spokesperson for Womack told me.
Members further suggested that if it’s true, Cawthorn should name names. I agree.
In the meantime, McCarthy will settle it with a chat.