It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
July 7, 2012 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (previously), R-MI 11, is a very conservative politician and a colorful character, to say the least.

First elected in 2003, Rep. McCotter is also an amateur musician, playing in the "Second Amendments" (seen here at FarmAid), a cover band whose members come from congressmen from both sides of the aisle. McCotter's guitar playing inspired a previous commander-in-chief to refer to him as "that rock and roll dude, Thaddeus McCotter."

A frequent and acerbic guest on the Fox News late night talk show show, Red Eye w/Gred Gutfield, McCotter was also an author, publishing Seize Freedom! American Truths and Renewal in a Chaotic Age in 2011, with the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

That same year McCotter announced, somewhat quixotically, his intention to run for the GOP's presidential nomination in 2012. After poor polling, he dropped out in September 2011.

While he briefly considered running for Senate, McCotter decided to run for re-election for his seat in the House. However, massive signature fraud meant that he, a sitting congressman, did not make it on to his own party's primary ballot. After toying with the idea of running a write-in campaign, he decided not to run for reelection.

After this set of embarrassing faux pas, it was revealed earlier this month that in October 2011, after his failed presidential bid, McCotter wrote a "pilot" for a mock talk show, Bumper Sticker: Made on Motown [sic]. (See also here.) Some highlights:

Some congressional staffers included in his 42-minute pilot episode dated Oct. 17, 2011, were the same longtime employees who handled the collection of petition signatures that botched his chances of getting on the Aug. 7 primary ballot. The character named "Wardo," the nickname others acknowledge is used for District Director Paul Seewald, dresses in a matador costume, gets drunk on a whisky-laced Slurpee and runs off stage after puking.

"Chowsers," the nickname for Deputy District Director Don Yowchuang, leers at women's body parts and snaps cell phone pictures of them, goes "cougar hunting" and repeats the line "I'm Thai."

In "Bumper Sticker," conservative commentator S.E. Cupp is cast as guest on the pilot. Cupp, a regular guest on cable political shows, also has appeared on "Red Eye" and co-hosts MSNBC's "The Cycle."

McCotter tries to ask serious questions of the columnist, while his sidekicks chime in by asking how she "keeps that great stripper bod?" and whether "D-Cupp" is dating anyone. In the script, Cupp is disgusted by the "train wreck" of the show.

It's unclear whether Cupp knew of her role in the pilot. Reached by e-mail, she didn't want to talk about McCotter.

Asked who would find the humor in the script funny, McCotter said he wasn't trying to reach a broader audience. He said the show was "deliberately designed to be a train wreck" to further assault the dignity of the central character — McCotter the host, who is already humiliated from the presidential run.

"The very fact that people wouldn't find that funny and the suffering of the protagonist of having to be involved in it was what was funny," McCotter said.

In a statement which quotes Bob Dylan, McCotter referred to the recent "totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits" as the reason why he was going to "embrac[e] the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen," and resigned his congressional seat on July 6, 2012.
posted by dhens (26 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Fantastic post, thanks.

I was reading about McCotter's signature fraud. I wonder what the story behind it is. How does a shoe-in incumbent mess up a routine administrative matter that badly?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:37 PM on July 7, 2012

It's amazing when you test the lower bound for congress and it just keeps going.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:41 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]

If Rep. Thaddeus McCotter didn't exist, Mr. Show would have had to make him up.
posted by scody at 12:42 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

He was quoted as saying he didn't write the script on the tax payer's dime. He wrote it in his garage where he could smoke.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:45 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think Joaquin Phoenix has a new competitor in the category Career Suicide As Performance Art.
posted by jonp72 at 12:47 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hey Republicans! We found that massive vote fraud you're always worried about! You can go ahead and prosecute now!
posted by Slinga at 12:55 PM on July 7, 2012 [27 favorites]

McCotter is my Representative. I've run into him a few times at the local music shop. Honestly, I think he's a nice guy with the conviction of his principles. I disagree with him, but I don't think he's crazy, blindly partisan or even overly rigidly ideological. He's one of the good Republicans. He's not Gerald Ford, but he's not Joe Wilson.

Everything from here on is totally and utterly my opinion with no basis in fact:
I think he's broken. That Presidential run -- where he couldn't get on the carousel of anyone-but-Romney, while people like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were seriously touted as possibilities, even though he was the only person out there who was looking at China as a bigger threat than gay marriage -- just drained him, to the point that he simply couldn't get excited about going back to Congress (where he was the fifth-ranking Republican while serving as Chair of the Republican Policy Committee). His staff put a form in front of him to sign, and he signed it, because of course his staff got him enough signatures to get on the ballot.

And then he went back to work -- he was on or had just returned from a Congressional delegation to South Korea when the signature scandal first broke -- and everything was going to be fine, and he'd recharge his batteries with another term or two in his relatively safe House district, maybe move on to something bigger (Senator Carl Levin is getting pretty old, and Governor Rick Snyder can only serve two terms). After all, he's only 47. Plenty of time to move up the ladder.

And then someone he knows in the Secretary of State or Attorney General's office called and broke the news. He said, okay, we can figure this out. It's not fraud -- he has good people working for him (as does everyone in their own mind) -- it's just a mistake. He can still run as a write-in. But his new district includes big parts of Oakland County, and the Oakland County GOP hates Thad McCotter because he ignored them while he was on the way up. Now that there's blood in the water, bet your ass the sharks are circling. So he gives up the write-in idea, and he just settles in to finishing his last term, maybe thinking idly about a Nixonian comeback in a few years, tapping out a goofy little TV script because what the hell, why not.

And then the script gets leaked, and odds are that he's at least going to get indicted for election fraud, and his defense -- the very best thing he can truthfully say -- is that he was incompetent and didn't even look at the signatures before he signed some form saying he was the candidate and he approved this petition, because good god is that a shitty Xerox job. So... fuck it. He's out.

On the plus side, the Dems actually put up a decent opponent this year because of the Oakland County thing and hopes that the 11th District might swing just a tad bluer than usual. Otherwise, I shit you not, we'd have an actual November election between a LaRouchian and a rendeer farmer who would not only repeal Obamacare, but would put forth a Constitutional amendment banning mandates.
posted by Etrigan at 1:02 PM on July 7, 2012 [22 favorites]

If I had a name like "Thaddeus McCotter", I would be deeply involved in the moonshine trade.
posted by indubitable at 1:11 PM on July 7, 2012 [11 favorites]

Not rigidly ideological or blindly partisan? In order to be a GOP member in good standing, those qualities are required. This is a man who wrote that "climate change is a pseudo-scientific scare tactic", who called PPACA "bureaucrat-driven, government-run healthcare", argued that FISA "must not be weakened", thinks that globalization is a leftist-collectivist-elitist scheme, and wants to get rid of the UN.

He's no different than the other 240 R's in the House and I wish they all met the same fate he has.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 1:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]

It looks like jcreigh is right and the pilot script wasn't actually filmed. I am asking the mods to hope me.
posted by dhens at 1:26 PM on July 7, 2012

Mod note: Fixed!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not rigidly ideological or blindly partisan? In order to be a GOP member in good standing, those qualities are required.... He's no different than the other 240 R's in the House and I wish they all met the same fate he has.

It must be so much easier to hate people when you can convince yourself that they're all the same.
posted by Etrigan at 1:46 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

It must be so much easier to hate people when you can convince yourself that they're all the same.

If there are in fact a significant number of GOP representatives who are not rigidly ideological or blindly partisan these days, please point them out -- personally, I'd love some good news.
posted by scody at 1:51 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]

It's actually a lot easier for me when they all say the same ignorant wrong shit and vote in complete lockstep to arrest progress in this country, regardless of how folksy and down-home they might seem at the corner store.
posted by wikipedia brown boy detective at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

All that for almost $200,000 per year ?

I'm in the wrong line of work.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2012

I think he's broken.

I'm going to give you another interpretation. While I may not know him as well as you do, I have watched him completely go off the rails at hearings (things that are rarely televised or closely watched in district) starting long before the campaign.

He's not bright and he doesn't realize it nor does he understand the limitations of his own ignorance. He doesn't get complicated issues at all and he falls back to talking points, often when they're incoherent. Sometimes this makes him seem independent or quirky and in Congress that's something some people want. He misuses big words and he gets flustered when talking to people smarter then him. But it makes him a perfect guest on Fox's Red Eye, where he comes across as sharp and independent. It's what Krugman said of Newt Gingrich - he's what a stupid person thinks a smart person sounds like. Like Gingrich (and Dennis Miller, who's basic an unelected version of McCotter) he too is fooled into thinking he's smart. The Dylan quote is a giveaway. That's not smart or witty or cultured unless you're in college. The same time when you think you and your friends could totally run for president or write a hit tv show based on your experiences with the characters all obviously based on people you know.

This happens quite a bit in politics (and elsewhere). Here's his basic script: McCotter goes to University of Detroit and does well, stays for law school, probably is in the top half of his class at a fourth tier university. Maybe someone he knows went to Michigan Law, maybe not. If he has met good students who excelled, he may resent them or find reasons to believe their actually not as smart as he. He becomes a small town lawyer, people listen to him and don't always call him on his bullshit. He finds his way into local office, like tons of people from all over the country of all political stripes. He finds a simple ideological hook that simplifies complex problems he never quite gets (climate change is hard, believing it to be a conspiracy is easy). He gerrymanders his own position and wham, he's suddenly in Congress. And while many of his fellow congress members are small town auctioneers and other yahoos, there are suddenly smart people everywhere and he doesn't quite get them. So he hews close to his staff and gets more convinced that his ideological rigidity is a sign of rightness. And sometimes good things happen to uninteresting people who are in over their head and he never realizes it. This happens all the time in DC.

And then he runs for office and doesn't understand he's a joke. He writes a miserable embarrassing script and doesn't understand he's a joke. He keeps doing what has worked for 20 years and he just digs himself deeper. He's not broken, he hit a wall based on his own limitations. The only amazing thing about this story is how far he got with so little talent. Once a spotlight larger than Livonia local politics shines on him, everyone realizes who he is and what he's working with - except him.
posted by allen.spaulding at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [32 favorites]

He's an ignorant moron, good riddance. Now Walsh and West need to resign.
posted by spitbull at 2:46 PM on July 7, 2012

Well, he wrote a book. And in this book, he stated that Iraq and Afghanistan are not two wars, but theatres in the War For Freedom.

After I choked back the vomit, I read the comments here. And while Etrigan's characterization certainly seems fair, I think allen.spaulding's is a little closer to the harsh reality of it. You can be a "good guy" (rather, a man with good intentions) and still be an ignorant doofus. Hell, we just had one for President.

And as for the gross characterizations of all R's are bad R's? Well, certainly there are good Baath Party members who love their families, good Communists who love to hunt and fish, and Klansmen who can jam on a banjo. So, yeah, all R's are bad ones. It's not the person, it's the R, and it's toxic, it's a badge of shame and dishonor.
posted by Xoebe at 3:31 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Michigan politicians have made this state like Arizona, but with more blizzards. (See also Snyder, Kwame, and the entire set of state legislative Repubs.)

I caught a local TV station announcing his resignation last night. I was screaming at them, "Quote the incoherent parts." But of course they read the sentence that didn't sound like someone from the planet Zork wrote it.

Which is how so many crazyass Rs get into office in the first place. Some of the people who vote for them never hear about the more bizarre things. (Or they ignore it cos of the whole Dems want to make you gay-marry a brown terrorist and then have abortions/USAUSA.)

And although this guy's always been nutty I kind of think he might be having a wee nervous breakdown. You know how you get that itchy feeling that there's even more coming down the pike? A rent-boy? A diaper and prostitute? Etc.

Oh, and I may be moving near that CD, although I think I'd still be within another district with a House Dem. (Although ALL the state and local govt folks around that area are Rs, blech.)
posted by NorthernLite at 3:54 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

For someone not rigidly ideological or blindly partisan, voting 93% or more with his own party sure seems like a pretty high "blindly partisan" batting average. Especially considering only *once* in 2012 did he vote against his party in a "90%-party-line" vote. (Source)
posted by chimaera at 4:32 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg once wrote of McCotter in 2002:
I've interviewed hundreds of candidates for office, and most of the lost causes and serious contenders stand out immediately. But sometimes it's not so easy to separate the winners from the losers.

As evidence, I present Republican Thaddeus McCotter....

A former Wayne County commissioner who was elected to the Michigan state Senate in 1998, McCotter, 36, will win the August Republican primary in Michigan's newly created 11th district. That will make him a prohibitive favorite for November, since President Bush carried the district two years ago and the Democrats haven't recruited a credible nominee.

But if I've interviewed a candidate who was less communicative, more arrogant and more difficult to like, I can't think of one. And I've tried.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:22 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

It must be so much easier to hate people when you can convince yourself that they're all the same.

Did you look at the data he presented or can you see it from the top of that very high horse?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:54 AM on July 8, 2012

All morons are the same under the surface.
posted by spitbull at 8:34 AM on July 8, 2012

Not rigidly ideological or blindly partisan? In order to be a GOP member in good standing, those qualities are required.... He's no different than the other 240 R's in the House and I wish they all met the same fate he has.
It must be so much easier to hate people when you can convince yourself that they're all the same.

Can you indicate a way in which the facts above are not true? His party line voting record? I don't give two shits about the uniqueness of his quirky personal hobbies if his main profession is destroying the country I live in.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think he's a nice guy

FWIW, I have heard otherwise from former members of his own staff.
posted by naoko at 8:54 AM on July 16, 2012

S.E. Cupp Is a Colossal Idiot
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on July 18, 2012

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