Political Animal


July 07, 2012 7:31 AM Thaddeus McCotter Resigns From Congress

By Ben Jacobs

Thaddeus McCotter, a five-term Michigan Republican with a personality as idiosyncratic as his first name, resigned from Congress yesterday. Of course, he did so on Facebook. By political standards, this was the most normal thing about his resignation.

McCotter was a quirky but relatively successful Congressman from the Republican suburbs of Detroit. Then, last year, he decided to run for President. His campaign lasted for 11 weeks. After being shut out of debates and receiving only 35 votes in the Ames Straw Poll, McCotter decided to call it quits. Although his presidential campaign had been a total failure, it didn’t seem likely to damage him too badly. After all, McCotter had a relatively safe seat in Congress to return to—-not to mention all of the advantages of incumbency.

But this turned out not to be the case. McCotter managed to become the first incumbent in modern history to fail to submit the necessary petition signatures for re-election and thus not qualify for the ballot. In fact, his campaign submitted 2000 signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State, only 1000 of them needed to be valid. Instead, just 244 made the cut. Apparently, many of the signatures submitted were simply xeroxed copies of each other. The result was a political trainwreck. After some initial bluster, McCotter eventually decided against trying to mount a longshot write-in campaign for his seat. But then, things got really weird.

A script for a television show that McCotter had written as “cartharsis” emerged. The show, as described by the Detroit News:

starred McCotter hosting a crude variety show cast with characters bearing the nicknames of his congressional staffers and his brother. They take pot shots about McCotter’s ill-fated bid for the White House while spewing banter about drinking, sex, race, flatulence, puking and women’s anatomy.

This embarrassment was the last straw. So McCotter, quoting Bob Dylan and citing the “The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits,” resigned suddenly on Friday. It’s unclear what McCotter will do next or if a special election will be required to fill the remaining months of his term. However, there is one safe bet. Somehow, some way, the saga of Thaddeus McCotter will likely get even stranger before it’s all done.

Ben Jacobs is a journalist living in New York. He is a former reporter for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and contributor to the Boston Globe editorial page. Follow him on Twitter @bencjacobs.


  • dweb on July 07, 2012 9:39 AM:

    My initial reaction to reading his written explanation is "nervous breakdown."

  • berttheclock on July 07, 2012 10:19 AM:

    Perhaps, once a "Flying Squirrel", always a flying squirrel.

  • matt w on July 07, 2012 10:27 AM:

    Anyone else find it disturbing that he said he was "embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen." The sovereign citizen movements is cuckoo for cocoa puffs, and by that I mean radical anti-government white supremacists who have committed multiple instances of domestic terrorism including the Oklahoma City bombing.

  • c u n d gulag on July 07, 2012 10:53 AM:

    I read this yesterday, and LMAO.

    And the sad thing is, if you think about it - he was actually probably one of the saner Republicans in the House.

    The evidence of at least some level of sanity - he left it when he embarrassed himself.

    Think there's any way King, Gohmert, or Bachmann is going to resign?
    And how many times have they embarrassed themselves?
    Only every time they open their mouths.

  • Patrick Star on July 07, 2012 11:31 AM:

    I guess this is what passes for a "conservative intellectual" these days. Unbelievable. Then again, what makes him any different than all the other conservative nutcases out there? Why are these people taken seriously? Who the hell is voting them into office? That's the real story - these guys are like a barometer for the mental health of our fellow citizens. Scary.

  • KarenJG on July 07, 2012 11:32 AM:

    YAY!! I'm from McCotter's district. The reason his seat was "relatively safe" was because it was custom-made for him during the 2000 redistricting process. (Publicans in this state seem to go all out to capture the gov't in time for redistricting. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.) The district was deliberately drawn to exclude the residence of the then-current Dem. Rep, Lynn Rivers, so McCotter wouldn't have to deal with an "incumbent" for his initial race.

    The 43% (or so) of Democrats left in the district are celebrating today!

  • Sister Artemis on July 07, 2012 12:21 PM:

    I don't know - for me, the weirdest snippet from the Fall of the Thad is an odd bit from his facebook statement (quite a read in itself, with language harkening back to... well, I'm not sure, but a while ago, in a land far far away). Mr McCotter writes:

    "for the sake of my loved ones I must "strike another match, go start anew" by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen."

    Sovereign citizen? Really? Oh Thad, where have you gone THIS time, you weird and interesting character.

  • exlibra on July 07, 2012 2:37 PM:

    Thaddeus McCotter, a five-term Michigan Republican with a personality as idiosyncratic as his first name,[...] -- Ben Jacobs

    I'm betting that you don't have a Polish bone in your body :) Tadeusz (Thadddeus, once it's Anglicised) is a popular Polish name, nothing strange about it. Am also betting that Cotter does have a Polack in his closet somewhere; there's been a lot of intermarriage between the Irish and Poles (and Italians), because they all meet in (Roman Catholic) churches.

  • bluestatedon on July 08, 2012 1:13 AM:

    That he thought for five seconds that he'd have even an infinitesimal chance of getting the GOP nomination proves beyond a doubt that McCotter is a thoroughly delusional weirdo. By itself that makes him perfectly at home in today's GOP; the difference is that he's even more incompetent than most GOPers, as his petition drive shows.