On average, my Instagram posts don't get many views-- maybe 20-- I'm new to that platform and haven't figured out how to use it effectively. But when I put up posts about Madison Cawthorn, I get hundreds or even thousands of views! The posts I write about Cawthorn-- a moron, a congenital liar and a Nazi-- are uniformly negative. But the Instagram impressions, over dozens of posts, are generally from his admirers.
Who would admire someone like Cawthorn? Other Nazis? People who admire someone who has managed to get as far as he has with such a limited intellect? Or people who admire someone who didn't let a serious physical handicap hold him back? Or people who want to have an orgy with him and his third cousin once removed?
Michael Kruse's feature at Politico offers a <>perspective on the rise (and impending fall), of the young Nazi closet case congressman from Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Kruse shared a message from Cawthorn in response to Brad Ledford, the driver in the accident that caused Cawthorn such grievous injuries:
“I miss my life,” he said. “I miss being able to defend myself … being able to dress myself … being able to use the bathroom without someone helping me … I miss not peeing the bed because I have no control over my penis … not having to have pills keep me alive … being able to compete … being checked out by girls … I miss my pride as a man … the pride my father swelled with when he spoke my name … I miss,” he said, “not having to convince myself every day not to pull the trigger and end it all.”
That was about 5 years before he became Congress' youngest member. "Turning a stirring story of conquering adversity into a shocking political victory," wrote Kruse, "he achieved his most ambitious career goal at a staggeringly early age. And within weeks if not days of being sworn in-- at 25 years old one of the youngest members in the history of the House-- he had put himself on a short list of the chamber’s most known figures. Now, though, heading into his first reelection, Cawthorn is mired in controversy, facing the very real possibility that the end of his electoral career might come as quickly as it began. Emboldened by Cawthorn’s miscues, misdeeds and array of indiscretions, seven Republican challengers have lined up to try to take him out in Tuesday’s primary, party leaders have abandoned him, and other MAGA firebrands are keeping their distance what with the escalating storm of even just the past few months."
The list of Cawthorn's problems should be well-known to readers of this blog from driving with a revoked license several times and trying smuggle loaded guns of airplane several times to his cocaine and orgy charges, his baseless smears against Nancy Pelosi and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and all the stuff about insider trading, a disastrous cryptocurrency scheme, his role in the insurrection and all the sex stuff. "[A]nd," wrote Kruse, "his politically imprudent decision to announce he was switching districts only to reverse course."
The scope of Cawthorn’s troubles is broad, the implications transcending mere politics. More than 70 interviews with people who know Cawthorn, who have worked for him and against him, allies and enemies, activists and operatives and longtime watchers of politics here in the mountains of western North Carolina, paint a picture of a man in crisis. Cawthorn, they say, is an immature college dropout with a thin work resume, a scofflaw and serial embellisher who was neither qualified nor prepared for the responsibility and the scrutiny that comes with the office he holds. They describe him as a person whose ongoing physical pain and insecurities have made him unusually susceptible to the twisted incentives of a political environment and a Trump-led GOP that prizes perhaps above all else outrage and partisan attack.
“He’s not OK,” said Michele Woodhouse, the former Republican chair of the 11th District who’s now running against him. “He’s very unwell,” said a Republican strategist familiar with Cawthorn. “The recovery is not complete,” said David Rhode, a fellow Hendersonville native who knew Cawthorn pre-politics but now works for Wendy Nevarez, another one of Cawthorn’s current opponents. “He’s got some deep issues that will probably never go away,” said Chuck Archerd, a Republican who ran against him in 2020. “It’s never going to be just totally fine,” said a friend.
The consequences are mounting. Cawthorn long ago lost the trust and support of some of the most influential Republicans in and around Henderson County, without whom he would not have gotten elected in the first place. More recently he’s lost the backing of the top two Republicans in the state Legislature, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger; the state’s GOP senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in Washington. And while Cawthorn widely is seen as a favorite of Donald Trump-- he spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and appeared at a recent Trump rally near Raleigh-- Trump in 2022 conspicuously has not issued an endorsement email for Cawthorn the way he has for scores of other candidates.
Polling shows Cawthorn sagging but still in the lead, his closest competitor being Chuck Edwards-- a state senator from the area who has the backing of Tillis and some of the best, most experienced strategists in the state. Needing to get at least 30 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff in July, Cawthorn is running out of money, running no ads on local TV and barely campaigning-- and all but trying to hide when he does.
...Cawthorn was struggling. The year before, on his 19th birthday, in the last week he spent at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta that specializes in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, he had told his family he would be “standing up for you” the next time they sang him happy birthday. Here he was, though, three weeks past the date he turned 20, the handsome, “charmed” second son of an “upper middle class” financial adviser father and a homemaker mother who doubled as her boys’ teacher, a onetime football linebacker, avid weightlifter and duck-hunter, cheerful Chick-fil-A cashier. He was paraplegic.
...Cawthorn’s congressman at the time was Mark Meadows, and he had gotten a part-time job as an assistant in Meadows’ Hendersonville office, starting in January of 2015. He had said during the deposition he was full-time-- he would tell the Asheville Citizen-Times the same thing during the campaign-- but he wasn’t. Even in his part-time capacity, according to a fellow member of that staff, he didn’t do much. “He worked for us and answered the phone, and couldn’t even do that, just to be honest,” this person said.
...In the fall of 2016, he enrolled at Patrick Henry College, a school in Loudoun County, Va., with fewer than 400 students that “exists to glorify God” and prepare “Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture.” The Saturday of Thanksgiving, a few weeks after Trump’s election, Cawthorn struck a pose in front of the U.S. Capitol. “As a child I thought I wanted to rule the world,” he said in an Instagram post. “As a young adult I know I do.”
But his time on campus was a disaster. His “average grade in most classes was a D,” he later said in a deposition. In a speech he made to the student body in a chapel on campus, he falsely suggested he had gotten into the Naval Academy before the accident, and he said Ledford had left him to die in the car “in a fiery tomb” — when Ledford in fact had helped pull him out. Most seriously, though, in his short time at PHC Cawthorn “established a reputation for predatory behavior” and “gross misconduct towards our female peers,” taking them on “joy rides” to secluded areas where he locked the doors and made “unwanted sexual advances,” according to an open letter 148 former students wrote and signed. “He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing who made our small, close-knit community his personal playground of debauchery.” (“I have never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life,” Cawthorn has said.)
In October of 2017, in a second deposition in a separate accident-related lawsuit, Cawthorn admitted under oath that what he had said in his first deposition about having been accepted to Harvard and Princeton wasn’t true. He was no longer living with his parents but in an apartment in Asheville with Stephen Smith, a slightly younger distant cousin who was becoming his best friend and primary helper who provided the assistance Cawthorn needed in part because of thick carpet that made it hard to wheel around. He didn’t have a job. He wasn’t going to school.
...Cawthorn is a member of Congress because he got 18,481 votes in a primary, which was 1,016 votes more than the candidate who finished third, which was enough to get to a runoff, which he won. “Charisma and sympathy,” said a North Carolina GOP consultant working for one of his many opponents, “in a very, very low-voter-turnout election.” Really, though, Cawthorn is a member of Congress because he didn’t run as the person he’s been since he won.
...Interviewers keyed in on the comeback story he had leaned on throughout his bid. “I have experienced more pain and more suffering than the overwhelming majority of people go through,” he told the Washington Examiner. “That has taught me something that is, I believe, absolutely missing in conservative politics, and that is empathy.”
“To liberals, let’s have a conversation. To conservatives, let’s define what we support, and win the argument in areas like health care and the environment,” he said from the stage at the Republican National Convention that August. With a walker and the help of his pals, he stood up from his chair at the crescendo of his speech. Noting he had been “touted as a future star of the party,” CNN’s Chris Cillizza said it was “moving.”
In September, speaking with Jewish Insider, Cawthorn praised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He disagreed with her policy platform, he said, but in other ways he admired the woman who had become a standard-bearer for young progressives. “She is influencing an entire generation,” he said. “I’m sure her and I will get along when I get to Congress.”
“Black lives matter,” Cawthorn said that month during a debate with his Democratic opponent Moe Davis, a retired Air Force colonel and former prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay. “I was unhappy with the way the president treated the death of George Floyd,” he said of Trump, according to the coverage of the debate in the Cherokee Scout, “and the lack of empathy he showed after that death happened.”
Even in late October, speaking with a reporter from the Hendersonville Lightning, Cawthorn sounded totally different from how he sounds today.
“The reason President Trump didn’t endorse me,” he said of the lack of his nod in the primary and runoff, “is because I’m willing to be strongly critical of him whenever he messes up. I’m not planning to vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden.”
And he said he didn’t care for Trump’s tweets. “It does more to add to the partisan divide rather than try to heal it and unite us all as Americans,” Cawthorn said. “It makes people enemies of each other instead of saying we are Americans first and let’s work towards the future.”
Throughout, though, that summer and fall, scrutiny intensified-- in particular the beginning of the news of his pattern of sexual behavior included a report in which one teen from his area recalled trying to pull away when he tried to “forcibly” kiss her and getting her hair stuck in his wheelchair-- all the while Trump and people in his orbit now in the wake of Cawthorn’s rout of a win saw a star. He was invited to the White House. Trump’s Washington hotel. The RNC. (Cawthorn denied being “forceful,” and his spokesperson at the time said there was “a big difference between a failed advance and being forceful, to the extent that’s possible when you’re paraplegic.”)
In November, when the by-then-Trump-endorsed Cawthorn won, he sent that night a very Trump-esque, red-meat tweet.
“Cry more, lib.”
In interviews with outlets ranging from local newspapers to Jewish Insider to CNN, Cawthorn expressed regret. “I have to represent everybody now, so I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.
But for Cawthorn’s older, more experienced advisers, the tweet was one of the first signs of a stark, disquieting change. Chief among them was Erwin, the sheriff who had helped Cawthorn from the start. Erwin was in line to be Cawthorn’s district director-- until Cawthorn in the aftermath of his victory called Erwin “a coward” and “a little bitch.”
The disagreement began, Erwin said, when he wanted an older, more experienced woman to be hired for a position in the district office, and Cawthorn wanted a much younger woman instead. “And so he started communicating with other people and said that I couldn’t handle a disagreement between two girls-- and it wasn’t two girls; it was a young lady and a woman-- and that I was just a coward and a bitch, and he didn’t know if he wanted me to be his district director,” Erwin told me. “And that’s when I told him, ‘Look, all due respect, I’m going to have to pass on this position.’” (Cawthorn declined to comment.)
“He has an extreme version of what I always call successful person syndrome,” said a Republican strategist familiar with Cawthorn and the campaign, defining it essentially as a first taste of success going to somebody’s head. “I’ve seen this through the years, but not to this degree, because people I think just don’t have the trauma that he has.”
“He hears you,” Erwin said, “but he doesn’t listen.”
The most charitable way to see Cawthorn’s first month in Congress is that it was the last gasp of his best self.
On Jan. 3, 2021, he was sworn in. The first thing he did was contest the election of Joe Biden. He tweeted it was “time to fight.” On Jan. 6, at the “Save America” rally at the Ellipse, he was one of the speakers who revved up the crowd. “My friends,” he said, “I want you to chant with me so loud that the cowards I serve with in Washington, D.C., can hear you.” During the storming of the Capitol, he called into the radio show of right-wing talker Charlie Kirk and said he believed some of the ransacking mob were “antifa” and “people paid by the Democratic machine.”
And yet he spent parts of the following few weeks, as Congress moved swiftly toward impeachment of the outgoing president, saying he was sorry.
He said the people who attacked the Capitol were “pathetic,” “weak-minded” “thugs,” and that what happened on the Hill that day was a “despicable” “perversion of patriotism.”
“And the worst part was they’re all waving these American flags and these MAGA flags, and you want to say, ‘You don’t represent me at all. That’s not my movement. You’re not part of my party,’” he told Olivia Nuzzi of New York. “There’s no excuse for it.”
“I have no problem calling that out, even though a lot of those people probably would’ve voted for me,” he told Cory Vaillancourt of the Smoky Mountain News. “It’s definitely time for the president to concede.”
“The election was not fraudulent,” he said on CNN on Jan. 23. “Joseph R. Biden is our president.”
He was one of 17 GOP House freshmen who sent Biden a letter on Inauguration Day saying they wanted to work with him to try to “rise above the partisan fray.” He told Story Hinckley from the Christian Science Monitor he was praying for Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and that the member of Congress he most wanted to have lunch with was Nancy Pelosi.
The longer, though, he’s been in office, the less penitent he’s been.
He started selling Covid masks that said “USELESS.” In a speech on the House floor about the Second Amendment, he said, “In real America, when we say, ‘Come and take it,’ we damn well mean it.” When Liz Cheney of Wyoming was booted from her House leadership position for her pro-democracy views, he tweeted, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye Liz Cheney.” He called Dr. Anthony Fauci “a punk.” He called Biden “a geriatric despot.” He said Biden’s vaccine outreach efforts were really so the government could come take people’s Bibles and guns. He called on Harris to invoke the 25th Amendment and oust Biden from office in a letter in which he misspelled her name. He cleaned a gun during a Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing on toxic burn pits on Zoom. He went to the airport in Asheville with a gun. He went to a school board meeting in Hendersonville with a knife. Months after he called them “thugs,” he said the insurrectionists in jail were “political prisoners.” Months after he said the election was “not fraudulent, he said, “If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, it’s going to lead to one place, and it’s bloodshed.” In the midst of redistricting he tried to shift to a district that would have stretched east to the much larger Charlotte market before coming back when the maps were shot down. He was pulled over going 89 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone in Buncombe County. He was pulled over going 87 in a 70 in Polk. He told mothers to raise their sons to be “monsters.” He disparaged the Ukrainian president. Republicans from the mountains to Raleigh to Washington finally had begun to think enough was enough when he accused his Capitol Hill colleagues of participating in orgies and doing “key bumps” of cocaine. And that was before the pictures and videos started to make their way around social media and even into campaign ads.
“Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards western North Carolina expects from their representatives,” said Tillis. “On any given day, he’s an embarrassment,” said Burr. “He’s reckless,” said Tim Moore, the North Carolina House speaker. McCarthy said he needs to “turn himself around.”
...Electorally, come Tuesday, he could still win. Politically he might already have lost.
“What is going on with him?” Sean Hannity said on his radio show the other day. “Look,” Hannity said, “I never like to celebrate people’s decline or misery, and I don’t like to pile on-- I don’t know what he’s going through-- but … something is going on here, and it sounds to me like he needs some type of intervention or help.”
Trump has asked people if Cawthorn is "fucking his cousin," Stephen Smith. He's refused to formally endorse him this cycle and he's refused to cut an ad for him, all based on being "weirded out" by Cawthorn's understandably twisted sexuality. Kruse decided not to address anything about Cawthorn being a closet case, although he talked briefly about the cross-dressing episode. And, speaking of twisted, Abigail Weinberg did a similar extensive exposé yesterday for Mother Jones, Lauren Boebert's American Dream, about another far right freak from teh same circles Cawthorn runs in-- like him a moron, but a high school dropout, not a college dropout.
She started by describing Boebert's mostly empty diner, Shooter's Grill, a shrine to far right lunacy, in Rifle, Colorado. "Boebert, a star of the GOP’s shitposting generation," she wrote, "has led a career as brash and Trump-loving as the restaurant she operates. She joined Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in heckling President Biden at this year’s State of the Union. She insinuated that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was a terrorist, calling her the 'jihad squad.' On the morning of the January 6 insurrection, Boebert tweeted, 'Today is 1776'-- and then objected to the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. This trolling has made it hard for liberals to understand how someone so brazen and bigoted could be elected in a state supposedly full of outdoor recreation enthusiasts and pot-smoking hippies. But her themed restaurant and constant outrage bait belie the simplicity of her political appeal. Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, which Boebert represents, is geographically the 15th largest in the nation. It encompasses much of the state’s mostly rural Western Slope, then swings east to scoop up Pueblo, a politically moderate steel-producing city with a large Latino population. Unlike Greene’s district, CD-3 isn’t deep red: It’s a competitive congressional seat where more than 40 percent of voters are unaffiliated.' Boebert’s status as a straight-talking small-town business owner appeals to voters. 'I could relate to her,' one Boebert supporter told the Associated Press. 'Just like President Trump. He’s not a politician and she’s not a politician, and running this country is a business.'"
No one knows who her father was. When she was born in Orlando in 1986, her mother was 18 and single, claiming that the guy who knocked her up was pro-wrestler Stan Lane, who denies the charge and points to a paternity test that proves he had nothing to do with bringing the fascist moron onto the earth. the mother, a racist pig like her daughter, kept turning out kids with various random men. Lauren also started having children before she was married, presumably with the domestic abuser she eventually married, but no one-- including her-- knows for sure which guy she was fucking in high school impregnated her.
In January 2004, when she was 17, she went bowling with the 24-year-old man she would later marry. It wasn’t exactly a fairytale courtship. At the bowling alley that night, Jayson Boebert exposed his penis to two teenage girls. (In a witness statement, a victim claims that before Jayson exposed himself, he commented on her fading ankle tattoo, saying, “Well, I have a tattoo with your name written on my dick.”) Jayson pleaded guilty to public indecency and lewd exposure and spent four days in jail, followed by two years on probation. A month after the bowling alley incident, Jayson pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge-- reportedly against Lauren-- for which he would spend seven days in jail.
...[After marriage in 2007] Boebert spent the next few years raising her children and preaching to incarcerated women at the county jail. She said she preached there for seven years and called her work “far more powerful than any government program could ever be.” (Volunteer attendance logs obtained by Colorado Newsline suggest that she only preached for two and a half.)
In 2010, amid the national foreclosure crisis, she and her husband were evicted from their home in Silt, a town just down the road from Rifle, according to housing records. The details of the next several years are murky, but the couple seems to have landed on their feet: In 2013, the Boeberts opened Shooters Grill.
Before Boebert stoked liberal rage on the national stage to forge a political career, she did it to sell hamburgers. Boebert claims that workers at Shooters began to open carry because a man was “physically beaten to death” in the alley outside her restaurant. A man did die on the sidewalk down the street from her restaurant, and police initially investigated his death as a homicide, but they ultimately determined his cause of death to be a drug overdose.
Whatever caused the open carry policy, it garnered plenty of attention. After a local reporter published a story about the restaurant’s gun-toting waiters, CNN and Nightline sent cameras. “Almost all the waitresses pack heat, publicly and proudly,” Nightline anchor Dan Abrams explained in 2014, adding incredulously, “They say it makes them safer.” Boebert claimed her policy was unremarkable: “It is a very common thing here,” she said. “We see people open-carrying all the time.”
Former Shooters employees tell me that, in the early years of Boebert’s fame, people visited the restaurant from across the country, and that the dining room was often packed with tourists on summer days. But they also say that the reality of working at Shooters was far removed from the lighthearted atmosphere shown on TV.
In fact, five former Shooters employees tell me that Boebert frequently failed to pay her employees on time. (Two of the former workers wished to remain anonymous because they feared retaliation; another did not want to be named and publicly associated with Boebert.) “The second the restaurant blew up, her head blew up, and it became something entirely different,” one former waitress says. “And I got to meet a new version of her that is a monster.”
Multiple employees say that they were paid in cash, either out of the register or from Boebert’s husband’s wallet, without any taxes deducted. While many workers were struggling to make ends meet, they say Boebert spent exorbitant sums on breast implants, private schooling for her sons, and a new Cadillac Escalade. They describe her as alternately absent, showing up only when news crews were at the restaurant, or demanding. “If she would come into the restaurant,” one former employee tells me, “everyone just knew we were just gonna have a bad day, because she would just walk around and nitpick.”
Boebert insisted in her television appearances that gun safety was paramount, telling CNN, “There’s no accidents that are gonna happen…There’s no reason a waitress is ever allowed to unholster.” Most workers describe Boebert as consistently safe with guns. Still, one worker says safety was “not how it was perceived on TV.” Another claims that Boebert pointed a loaded gun at him when he said that he would have voted for Obama for a third term. “She would tell it like a joke,” he tells me. “She thought it was hilarious.”
Boebert’s employees say they helped out at her other enterprises, which included a catering service for visitors at the local airport and a now-shuttered restaurant called Smokehouse 1776. Food safety in Boebert’s emerging restaurant empire was not always flawless. Many workers vividly recall the day in 2017 when 80 attendees at a local rodeo catered by Smokehouse 1776 came down with nausea and diarrhea. A report from the county health department determined the cause to be food poisoning from pork sliders sold at an unlicensed mobile stand and likely stored at an improper temperature. Instead of owning up to the accident and apologizing to the community, Boebert lashed out at her critics, publishing an op-ed in the local paper saying the stool samples had been “improperly handled” and suggesting that “the level of filth that was on the grandstands at the fairgrounds” was somehow to blame. “I am sorry so many people have been misled by bits and pieces of stories that were released in an excitement to create some sort of ‘news’ in our uneventful area,” she wrote. Josh Boyington, a former cook, puts it more bluntly: “They poisoned the whole town.”
...Employees tell me they believed that Boebert’s husband, who works as a consultant in the oil and gas industry, was keeping the company afloat. “There were times when we were waiting for him to get his check, so that way she could get us our check,” one former employee says. According to Boyington, “He’s the one who paid the rent, all the bills, everything.”
“Shooters don’t make no money,” Boyington, who says he left the restaurant in 2017, tells me. “I left because I don’t even think we were topping $500 a day.” According to Boebert’s congressional disclosures, Shooters lost $143,000 in 2019 and $226,000 in 2020.
Right after that last sentence, I walked away from the computer to go:
shave my head
brush my teeth
A couple days ago I had had dinner with Marianne Williamson and one of the things she spoke with me about-- concerning where her head is politically right now-- struck me as profound enough to remember. When I attempted to quote her for this morning's first post about the 2024 presidential race, I couldn't remember the exact words so I left her a message to call. The quote, a hypothetical if she decides to run for president, was "I'm not running to perpetuate the system; I want to interrupt it."
But since we were already on the phone, I took the liberty of asking her about something that came up while I was meditating. So... instead of the rest of the tawdry Lauren Boebert saga-- which you can read at Mother Jones-- let me go to the conversation I had with Marianne. I told her that I had some mixed feelings about the post I was writing about Cawthorn and Boebert-- two people who came from extremely bad circumstances and still managed to make something of their lives-- albeit something cloaked in real evil. I was having doubts about being so negative about them, especially Cawthorn, who I write about so frequently.
Marianne reminded me about the tough beginnings Abe Lincoln (log cabin), FDR (polio) and Leonardo da Vinci (a gay vegan who was conceived when his mother was raped at the age of 16) all had and then went on the achieve true greatness. And she reminded me that it isn't the circumstances per se that gives us a Cawthorn on the one hand and an FDR on the other, but also the impactful human interactions. Kruse came close to discussing that. I think Weinberg wanted to but couldn't get the cooperation she needed from Boebert or anyone close enough to her who would know.
I'll just leave off here with one last bit about Cawthorn. This afternoon, CNN reported that not only are Republicans in leadership positions (McCarthy) rooting for Cawthorn, "aa party pariah," to lose next Tuesday, not saying that if he wins, he will be marginalized. "In private discussions, GOP lawmakers are debating ways to keep Cawthorn on the sidelines should he prevail in his North Carolina reelection race, from relegating him to less favorable committees to warning the punishments could get even stiffer should his controversial antics continue." He's so toxic right now that a member of the neo-Nazi Freedom Caucus told CNN that "it’s not a given that the MAGA firebrand will be invited back to the House Freedom Caucus next year, if he is reelected, noting that the group is invite only, and said Cawthorn is going to have to 'own up' to his mistakes."
No one cares that he's an actual Hitlerite and an insurrectionist, only that he ratted them (Patrick McHenry) out as coke snorting orgy-ists. Neither McHenry, who's been trying to get Cawthorn in bed for two years, nor any of the other North Carolina members of Congress are supporting his reelection campaign. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC): "He’s an embarrassment on any day that ends in 'y'."