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July 09, 2014 12:41 PM Over the Hill

By Ed Kilgore

Some of you may have seen a rather ungrateful item by The Hill’s Cameron Joseph, who was awarded a walk-and-talk with Thad Cochran after his return to Washington from a rather brutal runoff that in part revolved around claims he was not exactly with-it. Here’s what he wrote about:

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is back with his colleagues in Washington, D.C., after winning his hard-fought primary runoff — but he had a bit of trouble finding Senate Republicans’ weekly luncheon on Tuesday.
Cochran, while talking with The Hill, made a few wrong turns before accidentally ending up at Senate Democrats’ luncheon.
After exiting a Senate elevator on the wrong floor, Cochran and The Hill reboarded. He then found the right floor but turned away from the Senate GOP luncheon, a few yards from the elevator, to stroll in the opposite direction, arriving at the Democrats’ weekly gathering a few hallways away.
He chatted with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for a few minutes at the entrance, with Pryor congratulating him on his recent primary win over Tea Party-backed candidate Chris McDaniel, which his opponent is challenging.
Cochran didn’t seem to realize he was in the wrong place until someone in the room asked him if he was planning to join the Democrats for lunch.
“His father and I were elected to Congress and then to the Senate,” Cochran said after turning away from the Democrats’ room, referring to Pryor.
The Mississippi Republican then paused for a second, fumbling to read some papers he was holding.
“OK, so I’ve got to find out where …” Cochran said before The Hill asked if he was looking for the GOP luncheon, which has been held every Tuesday in the same room for years. “Well, look, S-211. Let’s see if I can do this. I’ve been here long enough — 30 years,” he said with a grin.

Now you can imagine what Cochran’s Tea Party detractors will do with this report—not just the old senator’s confusion, but his impulse to attend the Democratic lunch after stealing an election from Chris McDaniel based on emulating the Democrat “plantation” strategy of bribing African-Americans to vote for him bark bark woof woof.

In Cochran’s defense, I spent a couple of decades in different capacities wandering around the Capitol complex and got lost regularly (the Rayburn House Office Building, with its identically bland hallways and strange numbering system was the worst, except for that wing of Cannon that could only be accessed by a single stairway, where they put very unpopular Members).

But in reading Joseph’s report, I kept thinking: Where’s the staff? Don’t tell me they sent The Boss off to a luncheon with a reporter in tow without staff present! What if Joseph claimed Cochran confessed tearfully that he indeed bought the runoff, or started babbling about space aliens? Who’d have a recording or even an eyewitness account to refute it?

Guess it’s just hard to find good help these days.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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