Chatting with our editorial director this afternoon, the topic of conversation turned to weird political moments. The bizarre saga over Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen’s saucy tweet to pop star Cyndi Lauper. Charlie Crist…um, “inspecting Florida’s beaches” during the Gulf oil spill. To take just a couple recent examples.
Al Kamen’s column in the Washington Post today is on just that topic, and I wish I’d read it earlier, because he cites a pretty good one — that I don’t remember — from the 1990s:
Our favorite example isn’t a news conference, but close enough: a public statement issued by a lawmaker’s office. The story, which our colleague Karen Tumulty recalled, goes like this: In 1994, Sen. Howell Heflin (R-Ala.) was dining with reporters in the Senate restaurant. As he spoke, he reached into his pocket for a hanky but instead pulled out a pair of women’s underwear.
Afterward, his office issued this statement, which might go down in history as the best congressional document ever (Tumulty keeps a copy as a souvenir): “I mistakenly picked up a pair of my wife’s white panties and put them in my pocket while I was rushing out the door to go to work. Rather than take a chance on being embarrassed again, I’m going to start buying colored handkerchiefs.”
I’m sure there are other great examples that precede my political consciousness. (Paging Teddy Kennedy.) Readers, help me out.