In his first term, North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn has been an embarrassment. We’ve seen his awful political chattering, like calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug”, and then the more personally damning, like getting arrested for driving with a revoked license.
But none of that seems to have pissed off GOP leadership the way Cawthorn’s most recent controversy has after the 26-year-old Republican alleged in an interview to have received invitations from lawmakers to participate in orgies while also witnessing these lawmakers do cocaine. (Specifically, Cawthorn said he saw someone doing a “key bump.”) House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy swiftly summoned Cawthorn into his office for a talk. Local Republicans got even more unhappy. And some in the North Carolina GOP, including US Senator Thom Tillis, are beginning to put more public weight behind a primary challenge.
This could be, the GOP has indicated, the end for Cawthorn. “I just told him he’s lost my trust,” McCarthy said in a rare public rebuke Wednesday, adding that there wasn’t any evidence to back Cawthorn’s claims. “I mean, he’s got a lot of members very upset.”
“I told him you can’t make statements like that, as a member of Congress, that affect everybody else and the country as a whole.”
But do Americans really share McCarthy’s frustration? As someone who has never attended a drug-fueled sex party—though truly no judgment if you have—I can say with full confidence Cawthorn’s allegations do not affect my life. But the clear panic Cawthorn’s claims have triggered within a party that has otherwise extended gratuitous tolerance to members hobnobbing with white supremacists is noteworthy here. It’s all to wonder what’s behind the urgent concern rankling Washington after Cawthorn opened his mouth.
Well, it looks like the answer might be the anxiety of spouses wondering if their dearly beloveds could be one of those who may or may not have invited Cawthorn to an orgy. That’s according to CNN’s Melanie Zanona, who asked Republicans why this controversy has finally forced them to draw the line with Cawthorn:
I asked a bunch of Republicans why *this* was the thing that broke the camel’s back with Cawthorn.
Their response: the orgy & cocaine allegations implicated fellow Republicans. And some members were getting questions from concerned constituents — and spouses — about the claims. https://t.co/S2qPzk8fqD
— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) March 31, 2022
We may never know if Cawthorn’s claims were ever real. (For the record, McCarthy said that Cawthorn either exaggerated or was not telling the truth.) But let this whole episode show you that for Republicans, hell hath no fury like a spouse suddenly wondering if you’ve attended a cocaine-fueled orgy.