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The Entirely Predictable Tragedy of Madison Cawthorn

Back home in North Carolina, he made a “vision board” or goal board. “Congressman Cawthorn,” he said. Cawthorn’s congressman at the time was Mark Meadows, and he got a part-time job as an assistant at Meadows’ Hendersonville office, beginning in January 2015. He said during deposition that he was full time – he would tell the Asheville Citizen-Times the same during the campaign – but he was not. Even on a part-time basis, according to a colleague on this staff, he didn’t do much. “He was working for us and answering the phone, and couldn’t even do that, just to be honest,” the person said.

Cawthorn was more than a year away from the most intense period of rehabilitation. That didn’t mean he was healed.

“I didn’t feel like a man,” he once said. “I felt very weak and I felt very weak,” he explained. “If someone attacked me then, if someone attacked my family, they would literally be in more danger if I was there than if I wasn’t.” He described it as “the most emasculating thing”.

” What is my goal ? he wondered. “Do I have value?”

“One day my dad had a very difficult conversation with me,” Cawthorn said, “and he was basically saying, ‘Son, you’re going to have to make a decision. Either you have to give up or you have to move on. That night, he said, he stayed up for more than four hours making a list of the “pros and cons of staying alive.”

And Cawthorn in this story has made up his mind. “I completely forgot about the idea of ​​suicide,” he said.

“I decided I was going to live my life,” he said.

In the fall of 2016, he enrolled at Patrick Henry College, a school in Loudoun County, Va., with less than 400 students that “exists to glorify God” and grooms “Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture”. .” On Thanksgiving Saturday, weeks after Trump was elected, Cawthorn posed outside the US Capitol. “As a kid, I thought I wanted to rule the world,” he said in an Instagram post. “As a young adult, I know I do.”

But his time on campus was a disaster. His “average grade in most classes was a D,” he later said in a deposition. In a speech he gave to the student body in a campus chapel, he falsely suggested that he had entered the Naval Academy before the accident, and he said that Ledford had left him to die in the car “in a burning grave” – ​​when Ledford had actually helped him out. More seriously, however, during his short time at the PHC, Cawthorn “earned a reputation for predatory behavior” and “serious misconduct towards our female peers”, taking them on “rides” in isolated areas where he locked doors and performed “unwanted sexual acts”. advances,” according to an open letter that 148 former students wrote and signed. “He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing who made our small, tight-knit community his personal playground of debauchery.” (“I’ve never done anything sexually inappropriate in my life,” Cawthorn said.)

In October 2017, in a second deposition in a separate accident-related lawsuit, Cawthorn admitted under oath that what he said in his first deposition regarding his acceptance to Harvard and Princeton was not true. . He no longer lived with his parents but in an apartment in Asheville with Stephen Smith, a somewhat younger distant cousin who became his best friend and main assistant who provided the help Cawthorn needed partly because of the thickness carpet that made it difficult to roll. approximately. He had no job. He was not going to school.

“Tell me,” one of the attorneys told Cawthorn, “sort of what you’ve been doing, you know, on a day-to-day basis since you got back to North Carolina.”

“Well, sir,” he said, “I think it’s mostly about trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.”

“If you finish your degree at some point in political science, do you plan to go into politics?”

“That’s the plan, sir,” he said. “You know, politics is always a changing game, so I can’t talk about the future. But that would be the plan.

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