Updated: Apr 1
And Will He Drag The GOP Down With Him?
Cawthorn's biography is built on one outrageous lie piled on top of another but a western North Carolina congressional district carefully gerrymandered to only elect Republicans puked the utterly unaccomplished young ne'er-do-well up into Congress in 2020. Having failed-- dismally-- everything he has ever tied to do in his life, the 24 year old decided the way to fulfill his dream to be president (of the United States) was to be elected to the Senate. Someone told him one of the few things required of a Senate candidate is the ripe old age of 30. When neo-fascist GOP congressman Mark Meadows was tapped by Trump to be chief of staff, young Cawthorn realized he could run for the House (which only required that members be 25-- and his birthday is August 1). He beat Trump's and Meadows' unattractive endorsee in the primary runoff and... suddenly one of the least qualified men to ever serve in government-- a victim of home schooling-- was in Congress. His first decision was to spend his personnel allotment on communications staffers and ignore policy entirely, figuring he could just do whatever Trump wanted and mimic fellow sociopathic extremists Marjorie Traitor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Paul Gosar anyway.
His excuse for dropping out of a Christian "college"-- after one semester of failed grades (and attempted rapes)-- and being Congress' dumbest member is also a lie: "You know, suffering from a brain injury after the accident definitely I think it slowed my brain down a little bit. Made me less intelligent. And the pain also made reading and studying very difficult." The words "less intelligent" are one of the most accurate ways the violence-spouting conspiracy rumor monger ever described himself.
Less than three weeks before pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, resulting in five deaths, then-Congressman-elect Cawthorn delivered a speech at a Turning Point student summit in West Palm Beach, Fla., urging thousands of mostly unmasked young conservatives to “lightly threaten” their representatives. “Call your Congressman,” he said to the young people, offering them a script: “Say, ‘You know what? If you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you. Everybody’s coming after you.’”
Hours before the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol-- in which an angry mob did, in fact, come after members of Congress-- Cawthorn again addressed an agitated crowd just south of the White House, this time commending them for their pugnacity. “This crowd has some fight in it!” he said, gesturing out to the crowd with one hand while his other one gripped a microphone.
When the Capitol was breached, forcing lawmakers to take shelter behind wooden furniture and in crudely barricaded offices, Cawthorn called into conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk’s live podcast, where he suggested that his wheelchair allowed him to carry “multiple weapons” and entertained a radical conspiracy theory that the riot was carried out by actors planted by the left. “I believe that this was agitators strategically placed inside of this group-- you can call them antifa, you can call them people paid by the Democratic machine,” he said. (There is no evidence of this, according to the FBI.) When the teargas cleared, Cawthorn returned to the House floor, where he joined more than 120 fellow Republicans in voting to support objections to Biden’s electoral victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
...Cawthorn’s outsized focus on messaging isn’t incidental to his rise to power; it is central to his success. As a new legislator, he is not working on churning out new bills. He is, instead, presenting himself as a useful messaging megaphone for the legislators that do. “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation,” he wrote to Republican colleagues in a Jan. 19 email obtained by Time.
Cawthorn’s media savvy was in full view when he spoke to TIME through a computer screen from his North Carolina home in December. During our 45-minute talk, Cawthorn smiled easily, peppered his responses with my first name, and characterized himself as an amiable young lawmaker willing to reach across the aisle. He told me, for example, that he plans to sleep in his office, rather than paying for an expensive Capitol Hill apartment, and will perhaps use the money he saves to buy a handful of sport wheelchairs that he’ll invite colleagues to use in games of wheelchair basketball. “I definitely want to challenge AOC’s office,” he said, “because we should seek to create relationships outside of the halls of Congress with people on both sides of the aisle.”
Soon after being sworn into Congress, at an event at the Texas border, Cawthorn declared, that there was "a large group of cartels, kidnapping our American children and then taking them to sell them on a slave market, a sex slave market." He got away with that bold-faced lie and Kevin McCarthy never told him to watch his mouth. That led directly to his declaration, whether true or not, that he had witnessed Republican members of Congress snorting coke and that Republican congressmen had invited him to orgies.
Today writers for The Forward reported that a poll by a Republican firm shows that the anti-Semitic little shit could actually lose the GOP primary in May. Right after that CNN reported that North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis (R), in a shocking move, endorsed Cawthorn's top opponent, state Sen. Chuck Edwards. "It comes down to focus on the district, producing results for the district, and in my opinion, Mr. Cawthorn hasn't demonstrated much in the way of results over the last 18 months."
And Tillis may not be alone. Other GOP lawmakers who are at their wits' end with Cawthorn are considering endorsing one of his primary foes, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions, amid growing concerns that the North Carolina Republican is dragging down the entire party with his problematic behavior. The two most powerful North Carolina Republicans in the state legislature-- Senate leader Phil Berger and House speaker Tim Moore-- are headlining a fundraiser for Edwards on Thursday, according to the Edwards campaign.
...Many Republicans-- who say Cawthorn has rebuffed repeated attempts to show him the ropes-- think he is more interested in generating headlines than serious legislating and has alienated himself in the House GOP as a result. Some Republicans worry that Cawthorn and a handful of other vocal fringe members in the party are hurting the GOP brand and creating an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction in their quest to win back the majority.
Retiring Sen. Richard Burr-- the senior GOP senator from North Carolina-- told CNN he won't be getting involved in Cawthorn's primary, but added: "On any given day, he's an embarrassment."
Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who represents a district won by President Joe Biden, said Cawthorn's bizarre allegations about sex acts and drug use were "terrible" and that he shares "the anger of my colleagues."
And Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota told CNN that instead of an angel and devil on Cawthorn's shoulder, "in Madison's case it's Lloyd Christmas on one shoulder and Harry Dunne on the other shoulder"-- a reference to the main characters in the movie Dumb and Dumber.
"People are flat pissed off," Armstrong added.
The public and private broadsides illustrate how Cawthorn, who was once seen as a rising star inside the GOP, has quickly become persona non grata inside his own party. But McCarthy's past efforts to rein in the fringe members inside his conference haven't worked, and it's unclear if the push to defeat Cawthorn in North Carolina will fare any better. The congressman is facing at least five Republican candidates in his primary, who could split the vote against him, and needs to earn just 30 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff election.
Cawthorn's critics acknowledge that any GOP attempts to defeat or damage Cawthorn in a primary could also backfire: Cawthorn has built a brand as an anti-establishment Republican, and the backlash from his colleagues may only boost his bona fides on the far right. Further complicating things, Cawthorn has the ear of former President Donald Trump, who regrets not backing Cawthorn's initial bid for Congress.
Tillis, however, appears unfazed by the prospect of going up against a congressman beloved by Trump.
"I'm gonna do my best to defer to the people in his district to make that choice," Tillis said. But he added that he believes voters will think highly of Edwards compared to Cawthorn, "both in terms of temperament and a focus on getting things done."
...Republicans in the state say that if they don't coalesce behind one candidate, Cawthorn will be able to clear the primary field and win reelection.
"That's the problem right now," said unaffiliated North Carolina GOP strategist Jim Blaine, a former top staffer for state Senate president Phil Berger. "I think if the election was a binary choice between Chuck Edwards and Madison Cawthorn, Chuck Edwards would beat Madison Cawthorn."
"The problem is there are six other candidates ... in that race who are trying to be the anti-Cawthorn," he added.
The NY Times' Trip Gabriel also reported this morning that Cawthorn's colleagues and North Carolina voters are getting tired of his "antics" Gabriel wrote that "In the era of Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party-- when making falsehoods about an election isn’t disqualifying, when heckling a president at the State of the Union is no big deal, when attending an event tied to white supremacists doesn’t lead to exile-- it may still be possible for a hard-right member of Congress to go too far. That is the object lesson of Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, the House’s youngest member, whose bid for a second term is in jeopardy after a series of incendiary statements and personal foibles have soured many former supporters... Unlike some other far-right members of Congress-- including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, both of whom booed President Biden during his State of the Union speech-- Cawthorn is also saddled with a yearslong series of hyperbolic claims about his personal life, raising questions about his honesty... Cawthorn faces a total of seven Republican challengers, a field that includes other former supporters, who accuse him of neglecting constituents while chasing Instagram followers with fiery rhetoric and pursuing donors with expensive travel outside the state."
This morning, conservative Republican strategist Charlie Sykes wrote a short, powerful piece called Trusting Madison, a conservative's view of the degenerate fascism that defines where the GOP is headed-- and the quality of Kevin McCarthy's feckless leadership.
So this is what it took.
It wasn’t the tree-punching, his racist website, the lying about his accident and his admission to the Naval Academy; it wasn’t his incitement of the January 6 Insurrection, the allegations of sexual misconduct, his threats of violence, or his accusation that Volodymir Zelensky was a “thug.”
Apparently none of that was enough to shake Kevin McCarthy’s trust in the flamboyantly reprehensible young congressman.
But now, the GOP House Leader is shocked, shocked to discover that Madison Cawthorn is a liar, a crackpot, an an all-around deplorable human being.
And all it took was a few allegations about orgies and “key bumps” of cocaine.
And before going to sleep-- or whatever you do in bed-- please watch Roger Stone's "first hand" confirmation that congressional Republicans do indeed engage in cocaine-fueled sex orgies. Let's see what McCarthy and Scalise have to say about this. So far Cawthorn has not retracted his charges and he told Stone he doesn't plan to either-- because it's all true. We only have McCarthy claiming he did, while Cawthorn has a new ad out blaming all his problems on the left-wing establishment painting him as "Public Enemy #1." Watch this: