Wilbur Mills Knew How To Create A Real Sex Scandal

Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images with photo of Madison Cawthorn above

I grew up in a rather conservative household. Not in any rigid or bombastic way, but in the mild and routine ways and manners that came with rural Wisconsin in the 1960s and ’70s. My mom frowned on hearing ‘damn’ used by officeholders in news clips on the radio and felt a president should wear a jacket when in the Oval Office. My dad spent 40 years in town government looking out for how tax dollars were spent.

So it will not be surprising to learn when I was just starting out in high school the story that was talked about with disdain at home along with ‘what is the latest’ concerning an Arkansas Democratic congressman and a stripper, held my attention. Mom was born in that southern state and felt pride when something positive was reported coming from it. I can assure you that Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe, the frolicking woman in the Tidal Basin in front of the Jefferson Memorial, did not win anything other than rebukes at our home.

If such stories were reported over the years about married members of congress they were viewed as unacceptable and not how we should model our lives. The moral lessons from home were always rather basic.

I thought about Mills and the stripper this morning, and by extension what my parents would say concerning the latest sexual bombshell of a story that has riveted Washington.

North Carolina Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn has stated some of his fellow elected members invited him to sexual orgies. He also claimed cocaine was used in his presence.

The first-term conservative said he received invitations along the lines of: “‘Well, hey, we’re going to have kind of a sexual get-together at one of our homes, you should come’.” The 26-year-old described his response on the podcast “Warrior Poet Society”: “I’m like, ‘What did you just ask me to come to?’ And then you realize they are asking you to come to an orgy.”

The fact Cawthorn made such a public statement before any sex was actually undertaken is what needs to be addressed. If the offer actually happened what was to be gained by making it known? But since it was likely a self-generated moment of delusion one has to then ask what is the deeper problem with Cawthorn?

It is one thing to have an elected official with a zipper problem caught after his affair and embarrassed. Even a conservative one like Mills who seemed to live a rather staid life overall. The post-coitus blame game then starts with booze or pills and a lack of momentary mindfulness being the root cause of forgetting the spouse was back at home.

But how do we explain Cawthorn, who is a walking minefield of odd behavior, now creating a sex scandal out of supposed conversations? I am not sure if the one-term congressman grasps that he can not just state something like that without a whole series of reporters asking who, exactly, is he implicating and when did this party invite get sent?

Meanwhile, Washington and the rest of the nation know what a real sex scandal looks like. And what a mere attempt at headline-grabbing looks like, too.

And so it goes.

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