Cawthorn lashes out at "political establishment" after airport gun incident

AP Photo/Chris Seward

When politicians get in trouble, there are generally two types of responses. The first is the apology; a (perhaps tearful) mea culpa delivered to the press with the promise to do better in the future. The second is to deflect blame onto others while refusing to admit any personal failures.

In the wake of Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s new misdemeanor charges for leaving a loaded gun in his carry-on bag as he went through security at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, the freshman Republican decided to go with the second option.

Embattled Rep. Madison Cawthorn has accused the North Carolina “political establishment” of attempting to sabotage his political career with “salacious lies” after he was cited for possessing a loaded gun at an airport for the second time.

During a more than two-minute Instagram video posted on his account Tuesday, the North Carolina Republican charged he was a victim of a “coordinated attack” against right-wing first-term members of Congress.

“It’s going on across the country, but [in] North Carolina, we have the North Carolina political establishment and one RINO senator who are really targeting me,” he said, using the acronym for “Republican in name only.”

“They’re coming hard,” Cawthorn ranted. “They’re putting hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars to be able to defeat me.”

Unless Thom Tillis was the one who packed Cawthorn’s carry-on bag, I’m not sure why Cawthorn would be blaming the political establishment for this particular screw up. To be fair, there are other issues for Cawthorn beyond the misdemeanor charge he’s facing for forgetting his gun in his luggage, and maybe that’s what the congressman was referring to, but it’s still an awfully weak way to defend himself from the charges.

Meanwhile, House Democrats are trying to use Cawthorn’s latest troubles to once again try to enact a ban on members of Congress being able to carry in the Capitol, but according to the New York Times the effort is running into a roadblock from… Senate Democrats?

During a private meeting Wednesday with House committee chairs, Mr. Cawthorn’s latest gun charge came up, and Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat, expressed frustration over the situation, saying the Senate did not want to deal with the gun issue, according to a person familiar with the discussion who described it on the condition of anonymity. Mr. Hoyer blamed the Senate sergeant-at-arms, the chamber’s top security official, for blocking a change to existing rules that would have to be approved by the Capitol Police Board, which governs security around the complex, the person said.

Mr. Cawthorn, 26, was briefly detained by police on Tuesday after trying to bring a loaded gun through airport security in Charlotte, N.C., in his carry-on bag after a security agent saw the image of the firearm on an X-ray machine, the second time in a little more than a year he has been stopped from flying with a firearm.

Mr. Hoyer told his fellow top Democrats on Wednesday that William J. Walker, the House sergeant-at-arms, was planning to put out a letter calling for the Capitol complex to be gun-free but that he did not have agreement from the Senate, the person familiar with Mr. Hoyer’s comments said.

The New York Times report doesn’t mention any individual senators who are objecting to the gun ban, though it laughably claims that there are “several fervent gun-rights advocates” in the ranks of Senate Democrats. Fervent? Really? Where have they been hiding? Let’s hope they’re fervent enough to oppose the nomination of anti-gun politician Steve Dettelbach as ATF Director too, and not just fervent enough to want to keep ahold of their ability to carry a firearm for self-defense on the Capitol grounds.

As for Cawthorn, I would have much preferred to see him simply say “No excuses, I just screwed up” to his blaming the political establishment for his unforced error, but I don’t think that’s a part of his political playbook. We’ll see what the Republican primary voters have to say on May 17th, but until then Cawthorn might want to have an extra set of eyes checking his luggage before he travels. After all, you never can tell when some RINO squish is going to sneak up and put one of your guns in your bags in order to generate some embarrassing headlines, right?