Republican lawmakers have pointedly defended all manner of grotesque behavior from their leaders and each other in the past year, from international extortion to open white nationalism to calls for violence to intentional hoax-premised propaganda to showing up to a House hearing fiddling with a handgun to the outright attempt to stage a government-toppling coup. But Rep. Madison Cawthorn's claims of cocaine use and orgies in the Republican halls of power have set them off.
You can say pretty much anything as a member of the Republican Party, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will have your back. The only two things that will get you rebuked are a willingness to investigate the origins of Donald Trump's attempted coup, and the cocaine orgy thing. And McCarthy wouldn't give a damn about the cocaine orgy thing if Cawthorn hadn't tagged his fellow Republicans as the ones having them.
Now Cawthorn is taking the usual route on these things with a (fundraising) video vowing that by God, he's gonna keep talking about cocaine orgies and the "establishment" can't stop him. Wolverines!!!
There's a whole lot to go through here, so let's knock them off as quickly as we can. First and most importantly, Madison, I can promise you that there is nobody in the "radical left" or "the media" who wants you to shut up about the cocaine orgies. Please keep talking about the cocaine orgies. We've got your back on this one, so go nuts. Everyone who is not currently either a Washington, D.C., Republican lawmaker or staffer wants to you to spill as much about the Republican Cocaine Orgies as you can spill.
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Also, good on you for linking the cocaine orgy talk with the America First movement and the remarkably unflattering picture of Donald Trump. Well done.
All of that said, there are a couple of key things to remember in all of this. First, Madison Cawthorn has a long history of lying about the things that happen to and around him, a history so ridiculous that it can plausibly be described as pathological.
But we also know where the claims of cocaine use and lawmaker orgies come from: Rep. Matt Gaetz. All the Republicans pretending to be greatly outraged by Cawthorn's claims are steadfastly pretending they have forgotten, but Rep. Matt Gaetz remains specifically accused of attending group sex parties that included cocaine use—the exact claim Cawthorn is making!
Gaetz is currently (as far as we know) still being investigated for the sex trafficking of minors, and reporters have now found plenty of sources willing to come forward to describe that sex trafficking, the cocaine, the sex parties, and Gaetz's eagerness to brag about his sex life and show nude pictures of his partners on the floor of the House.
There's no way Rep. Matt Gaetz could have felt comfortable waving around pictures of maybe-underage, maybe-not sex partners in Congress unless he had very good reason to believe his fellow House Republicans would support his ultra-pervy behavior, so there you go. There's the kernel of truth that suggests that Madison Cawthorn might be lying about being invited to the cocaine orgies, but none of the Republicans currently yelling at him have been eager to say the cocaine orgies are for-sure not happening.
I mean, c'mon. It's a hell of a coincidence that Rep. Matt Gaetz's closest legislative partner appears to be Rep. Jim Jordan, the House Republican famous for turning a blind eye to sexual assaults going on around him. If Republicans are inviting each other to drug-fueled sex parties, there's no way Madison Cawthorn gets an invite before Gaetz's coat-averse buddy does.
Madison Cawthorn has proven himself to be an astonishingly brazen liar, but the people most furious with him aren't going out on a limb to deny that their peers might be having coke orgies.
See there, Madison? Nobody's trying to shut you up. Here's a Republican senator straight-up inviting you to tell what you know. (Tillis, in the meantime, is endorsing Cawthorn's Republican primary opponent—and sounds a lot more fed up with Cawthorn's orgy statement than Tillis ever was about the whole attempt-to-topple-the-U.S.-government plan. Apparently Tillis would prefer his party topple government without talking about cocaine orgies; it's a little thing called "decorum," Madison.
As for why the party of rank propaganda, brazen lying, incitements to violence, weird anime renditions of decapitating political opponents, white supremacist glad-handing, and international extortion is suddenly finding this single House Republican lie to be so enraging, we've got an answer for that too. And it's spectacular.
Yes, the core problem here is that Republican constituents and especially Republican wives find the idea that their representatives and husbands are doing cocaine and having sex parties to be plausible enough to ask about. To be sure, conservatism has now fully self-selected for gullible people willing to believe anything about anything and especially willing to believe that national elites are maniacal, criminal sex addicts, so it was bound to happen. But if House Republicans are getting calls from their wives asking them to more fully explain their time away from home ... yeah. Yeah, I imagine Madison's closest lawmaker pals might be extremely annoyed with him right now.
There's a whole lot of weird circulating around this right now, with the minority leader calling Cawthorn's claims "exaggerated" rather than dismissing them outright. There's the claim that Madison Cawthorn "doesn't know what cocaine is," which is a pretty bizarre claim to make about a guy who knows and uses the phrase "key bump" to describe it.
Incidentally, a "key bump" of cocaine? Really, Madison? I guess Republicans really will do anything to avoid using the metric system.
Fortunately, this story won't be going away. Rep. Madison Cawthorn is vowing to take on the whole coke-snorting, orgy-having "establishment" rather than allowing his fellow House Republicans to cancel him, and he seems pretty confident his best friend Donald Trump will back him up, so there's that.
It seems to me that Cawthorn's next step will be to name the lawmakers he thinks are involved with these group sex parties, and there will be no points awarded for saying "Matt Gaetz" or anyone who hangs out with Matt Gaetz. That's old news and Republicans have already rallied around Matt Gaetz to declare that it's nobody's business if Matt Gaetz snorts cocaine with escorts while grooming college students to have group sex with him. They've known it for a year—and are standing by him!
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