Earlier this week, GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina told his Twitter followers that Politico was preparing a "hit piece" on him and derided author Michael Kruse as biased. Well, that lengthy profile is now out, and it does indeed paint a devastating portrait of the 26-year-old, whose political future is on the line in Tuesday's primary. The gist of the story is that Cawthorn—beset by a series of scandals that have cost him the confidence of his own party's leaders—is "very unwell" as one GOP strategist puts it. “He’s got some deep issues that will probably never go away,” is how another Republican puts it. And even a friend is quoted as saying, "It's never going to be just totally fine." The trauma stems from the 2014 car accident that left Cawthorn a paraplegic, and the story's headline refers to the "entirely predictable unraveling" of the congressman.
Kruse's profile includes wrenching texts from Cawthorn—part of court records related to litigation over the car accident—in which he talks about his life about a year later: "I miss my life," he wrote. "I miss … being able to dress myself … being able to use the bathroom without someone helping me … being checked out by girls … (and) not having to convince myself every day not to pull the trigger and end it all." The story tracks Cawthorn's rise from a candidate who campaigned as a conservative with empathy, thanks to his accident, through the "red-meat" turn he has taken toward his party's fringes. "He has an extreme version of what I always call successful person syndrome," says a party strategist, referring to a person's quick success going to his head. "I've seen this through the years, but not to this degree, because people I think just don't have the trauma that he has." (Read the full story.)