Voices: It’s easy to feel Madison Cawthorn schadenfreude — but he’s right to call those video leaks blackmail

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It’s hard to feel bad for someone like Congressman Madison Cawthorn, but the Republican Congressman is right to describe the recent release of a nude video starring him as “blackmail.”

In the clip, the North Carolina Republican House member is naked in bed and making thrusting motions on top of another man. Given it comes mere weeks after Politico published photos of Cawthorn posing in lingerie while drinking from a wine glass at a party, it’s easy to guess what each release seeks to intimate about the 26-year-old Congressman. Cawthorn’s response to that particular incident was to merely dismiss it as an “attack from the left” on Twitter and to invite others to post their “most embarrassing vacation photos.”

He pumped his chest a bit more when responding to the latest headlines. “Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny,” the 26-year-old Congressman tweeted after the video clip was released. “We were acting foolish, and joking. That’s it.”

The Cawthorn leaks started to trickle out following a March podcast interview he gave where he accused GOP lawmakers of doing drugs and inviting him to orgies.

Cawthorn claimed on the podcast that Washington is rife with “sexual perversion” and that he was invited to a “sexual get-together” at the home of a fellow House member. “I’m like, ‘What did you just ask me to come to?’” Cathworn recalled. “Then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy.”

Cawthorn also claimed that he witnessed House members do cocaine in front of him. “Some of the people that are leading on the movement to try to remove addiction in our country, then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine in front of you,” he explained. “This is wild.”

Cawthorn ultimately said he was exaggerating, which, as others noted at the time, made sense given his history of not telling the truth — but that was not enough to cool off the fury coming from his own party.

“I just told him he’s lost my trust,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remarked at the time. “He’s going to have to earn it back, and I laid out everything that I find is unbecoming… You can’t just say, ‘You can’t do this again.’ I mean, he’s got a lot of members very upset.”

Yes, because as it’s well-known — from coup attempts to shadow dockets to now alleged orgies — that conservatives prefer to do their dirty deeds under secrecy. Cawthron may have been exaggerating, but I wouldn’t doubt it if there were a kernel of truth to some of his claims. Either way, he talked out of turn and is now being punished by forces seemingly attempting to make him appear to be closeted about his sexuality.

Which leads me to yet another video of Cawthorn – this time one that featured a male staffer touching his crotch. Homophobia is a trait shared by many Americans, regardless of their political ideology. So it isn’t hard to imagine that this really will affect Cawthorn’s reputation. Take, for example, a tweet from the Occupy Democrats account on the nude video featuring Cawthorn: “BREAKING: Shocking new video leaks showing MAGA Rep. Madison Cawthorn completely naked while grunting, chanting, and aggressively humping his friend in bed — reports that the ‘friend’ is actually his male cousin are still unconfirmed. RT IF YOU’RE SICK OF REPUBLICAN HYPOCRISY!”

Elsewhere, others have gone so far as to tweet that they would welcome Cawthorn into the LGBTQ community, should he elect to make a declaration – in spite of his longstanding homophobic history.

I’m not in charge of admissions into the LGBTQ community, but I will say more people need to look into both the Kinsey Scale and the behavior of your average frat boy before telling some to jump on the rainbow. A lot of their behavior is yes, homoerotic, but homoeroticism doesn’t make you a member of the team. If it did, I would have successfully dated a number of professional athletes and rappers by now. Cawthorn is currently being subjected to a campaign that aims to tarnish his image through homophobic suppositions — but that is monster he has helped feed during his political career.

A lot of men like Madison Cawthorn goof around in a homoerotic way but work to make the lives of queer people hell. He’s fast working out that this is what happens when people with their own skeletons don’t know when to shut up.

Of course, Cawthorn has a litany of other problems of his own making. Say, being recently cited on a misdemeanor criminal charge after he brought a loaded handgun to a North Carolina airport — the second time he’s been caught in an airport with a firearm. And as reported by the Asheville Citizen Times in March, Cawthorn was also charged with driving with a revoked license for the second time this year.

Worse, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina recently called for an investigation after ethics watchdogs raised suspicions of possible insider trading related to Cawthorn’s involvement with a cryptocurrency. Tillis has endorsed Cawthorn’s primary challenger so I guess if you can’t get rid of him by way of the vote, there’s always handcuffs.

Cawthorn is clearly a reckless politician at best. Yet, even as he arguably gets his just deserts, I can’t help but think much of the GOP would be standing by him had he not spoken out of turn in a podcast interview. Much as I would like the House to rid itself of Madison Cawthorn, it’s frustrating that his exit will likely have more to do with him wearing lingerie than being a despicable person towards the most vulnerable populations. That’s quite a feat for a politician who boasted of vacationing at a Hitler retreat — and a reminder to members like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene that they will be fine so long as they don’t talk about what they see from their caucus members outside of Capitol Hill.

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