Is this story still a thing after 18 hours or has public interest already evaporated? Normally a splashy GOP scandal piece will keep for at least a day on the news shelf, but thanks to Akinmania and the fact that the “scandal” here seems to consist of a few minutes of congressional full-moonage, I’m thinking we may have already passed the expiration date.
Bummer for whichever Democratic oppo person leaked this to Politico in hopes of dominating the slow late-August news cycle for a few days with a bit of subject-changing indignation. Although, thanks to Todd Akin, it worked out pretty well for them anyway.
During a fact-finding congressional trip to the Holy Land last summer, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) took off his clothes and jumped into the sea, joining a number of members, their families and GOP staff during a night out in Israel, the sources told POLITICO. Other participants, including the daughter of another congressman, swam fully clothed, while some lawmakers partially disrobed. More than 20 people took part in the late-night dip in the sea, according to sources who were participants in the trip…
These GOP sources confirmed the following freshmen lawmakers also went swimming that night: Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) and his daughter; Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and his wife; Reps. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Many of the lawmakers who ventured into the lake said they did so because of the religious significance of the waters. Others said they were simply cooling off after a long day. Several privately admitted that alcohol may have played a role in why some of those present decided to jump in…
The FBI looked into whether any inappropriate behavior occurred, but the interviews do not appear to have resulted in any formal allegations of wrongdoing.
But Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who was the senior most GOP lawmaker in Israel on the trip, was so upset about the antics that he rebuked the 30 lawmakers the morning after the Aug. 18, 2011, incident, saying they were distracting from the mission of the trip.
And? A drunken lark on a diplomatic trip is embarrassing but Cantor chewed their asses out for it, as well he should have, so this isn’t even a “GOP leadership losing control of its caucus” story. (And yes, despite its religious significance, the Sea of Galilee is used to swimmers.) Is there anything more to it, maybe something genuinely insulting to Israel? Did Yoder do a keg stand on the Temple Mount or something? As Conor Friedersdorf says, the most alarming part of the story is probably the fact that the FBI actually spent time investigating it. Either (a) there was some sort of allegation of criminal wrongdoing that we’re not being told about — and if there was, I can’t imagine why Politico’s oppo source wouldn’t have mentioned it — or (b) the FBI has way more free time on its hands than we thought. Which is it?
Update: A gentle FYI from Noah Pollak to the fake-outrage crowd:
The Sea of Galilee is not a “holy site,” MSNBC. The Western Wall & Church of the Sepulcher are holy sites. Galilee has booze cruises.
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) August 20, 2012