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Hot water: GOP colleagues want Madison Cawthorn to say who invited him to an orgy

It’s not even April and this is already a sure bet to be the funniest political story of the year.

Especially since there’s a high probability that Cawthorn made the whole thing up.

He told a podcaster last week that since he’s been in D.C. he’s been invited to sex parties by older political figures whom he used to look up to and has watched others do cocaine. That hasn’t sat well with House Republicans, who drew the same conclusion Meghan McCain did:

He can’t be talking about Democrats if he’s talking about people whom he admires. His entire political brand cuts the other way.

So which Republicans is he talking about?

My read on his “orgy” story is that it was a lie Cawthorn couldn’t resist telling, knowing how eager populists are to believe that the D.C. elite are corrupt not just politically but morally. A Republican establishment that so often seems out of touch with its voters ideologically might plausibly be out of touch with them on matters of “values” too, preaching faith and family during daylight hours before attending sex parties in the evening. As I said in the earlier post, his tale isn’t quite QAnon since he’s not alleging any child abuse but it feeds into the same populist suspicion that the private conduct of America’s governing class is alien and repugnant to decent Americans.

Cawthorn is a panderer by nature and would recognize a tall tale about a D.C. orgy to be an easy and — he assumed — costless pander to his base. He’s also been known to exaggerate or outright lie. A lot.

Cawthorn said a close friend had crashed the car in which he was a passenger and fled the scene, leaving him to die “in a fiery tomb.” Cawthorn was “declared dead,” he said in the 2017 speech at Patrick Henry College. He said he told doctors that he expected to recover and that he would “be at the Naval Academy by Christmas.”

Key parts of Cawthorn’s talk, however, were not true. The friend, Bradley Ledford, who has not previously spoken publicly about the chapel speech, said in an interview that Cawthorn’s account was false and that he pulled Cawthorn from the wreckage. An accident report obtained by The Washington Post said Cawthorn was “incapacitated,” not that he was declared dead. Cawthorn himself said in a lawsuit deposition, first reported by the news outlet AVL Watchdog, that he had been rejected by the Naval Academy before the crash.

He probably made the “orgy” thing up. No harm, no foul, right?

Wrong. Precisely because the story is designed to confirm the priors of populists about their leaders in Washington, other House Republicans are now getting calls from their constituents wanting to know who the libertines are in the party that’s supposedly working to Make America Great Again. They complained about it to Kevin McCarthy in this morning’s caucus meeting:

During a closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Tuesday, multiple Republicans in the room said lawmakers stood up to air their anger and frustration over Cawthorn portraying his own colleagues as bacchanalian and sexual deviants.

In one case, Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) stood up and addressed his colleagues, telling them that he rarely speaks during the closed-door weekly meetings but felt he must address the topic because he’s now getting questions about participants in Cawthorn’s alleged orgies and drug use. Womack remarked that many lawmakers go to bed at 9 p.m. and still use fax machines and flip phones, stating that it was inappropriate to paint them with a broad brush, as Cawthorn did…

Many GOP lawmakers privately expressed disbelief at Cawthorn’s claims, particularly of orgies. Some wondered if he made the comments consciously in a bid to portray himself above such acts — past media reports have addressed sexual misconduct allegations against him before his election. There’s a desire among fellow Republicans for Cawthorn to identify the colleagues involved to prove the truth of his comments, but that desire to name names could also cause new headaches for a conference that’s already faced an array of controversies this Congress.

It’s hilarious to imagine a roomful of angry Republicans badgering Cawthorn to point out the perverts in the room as the sweat beads on his forehead, forcing him to choose between admitting he made up the story for attention and falsely accusing one of the RINOs in the caucus of being the orgiast. “It … it was … Liz Cheney!”

My guess is he’ll wimp out and claim that it was some Democrat who invited him but he doesn’t feel it’d be appropriate to name that person by identifying him. Either that, or he’ll go the Trump route by agreeing to reveal the sex parties in question just as soon as his pretend team of investigators has finished gathering the evidence, and then hoping that everyone forgets about it and it goes away.

By the way, if you’ve never read this BuzzFeed piece about Cawthorn’s college days, make amends now. As noted above, I’m sure one reason why his colleagues are pissed about loose allegations of licentiousness from Cawthorn is that, unlike most of them, he actually has been accused of sexual misconduct. It’s one thing to be smeared, it’s another thing to be smeared by a guy with a rap like that. Your exit quotation: