In order to run for office, you must have one of two things: a familial connection to the D.C. elite, or a pristine background.
George W. Bush claimed power in 2001 with the help of the former. An ex-high school cheerleader with a history of alcohol abuse, Bush and his presidency were the product of a political dynasty and little else. But I’ll always prefer this inaccessible network of world leaders to the banality of congressmen whose seemingly uncontroversial lives are polished by years of not taking risks and not screwing up.
And that’s why it’s so fun to watch these pristine bastards trip over their own feet.
Representative Steve Cohen, the bespectacled Jew representing Tennessee’s only black-majority district, is a Democrat’s Democrat, touting donations from numerous labor unions across the country. He’s a news-cycle absentee, though. That is, he was — until he flirted with a young woman on Twitter.
While Capitol blowhards were patting each other on the back at this year’s State of the Union address — and one can’t blame him for wanting to distract himself — Cohen was tweeting his career down the toilet. Victoria Brink, an attractive 24-year old model and former Texas State University student, was on the receiving end, so to speak. “[N]ice to know you were watchin [State of the Union]. Happy Valentines beautiful girl. ilu,” he wrote, deleting the tweet fifteen minutes later after presumably realizing other people could see it.
Deleting tweets is a stupid choice for any public figure to make, especially since the Sunlight Foundation began keeping track of them all, because it’s an implicit admission that a mistake was made. And that’s the food that fuels the gossip pages. But Michael Hagan, Cohen’s main communications flack, threw cold water on the situation by telling New York magazine that the exchange was meant to be private.
“She is the daughter of a long time friend,” Hagan said. “He’s known her pretty much her whole life.”
The explanation turned a horny congressman’s flirtatious tweet into a family friend’s sign of affection. That should’ve been the end of the story. Then came NBC’s plot twist: Brink’s no family friend at all — she’s Cohen’s daughter, whom he’d been keeping secret for years. As a result, the sex rumors were put to sleep and everybody forgot about the story days later. Democrats were happy it was over. Republicans were happy the other side of the aisle looked stupid for a change. And the funny pages were happy to at least have something decent to sketch about. But the narrative never really made sense to me.
Cohen alleges that he found out about his daughter through a Google search. For one reason or another, after three years serving in the House, he happened to be scouring the Internet for a life update on a woman we can only assume he hadn’t seen in more than two decades? (Unless they hung out during that time period and she never mentioned having a child, not to mention nine months after they did the dirty.) He claimed “the math looked pretty accurate” and took it at that.
Cohen also told NBC that he indiscreetly sent the mid-State of the Union tweet out of sheer excitement that Brink “wanted Steve Cohen to be a part of her.” Yet it’s not like this was their first interaction. They’d tweeted back and forth as early as March 17 of last year, with Cohen even “favoriting” Brink’s first-ever tweet. He took her both as his date to the White House Christmas Party and on tours of the White House and Capitol, too.
At last we observe the grand finale, another plot twist: Brink is, in fact, not Cohen’s daughter. The Tennessee congressman never actually ordered a paternity test, figuring logical deduction was either more accurate or less expensive than genetic analysis. So, in the end, it turns out Brink’s real biological father is Texas oilman John Brink, who had raised her since birth assuming the entire time she was his daughter. When asked if he ever doubted paternity, the elder Brink simply laughed and said “no.”
Something is askew here.
There are only three likely scenarios in my mind: (1) Cohen and Brink were carrying out a sexual relationship that needed to be concealed by a fairy tale (my favorite choice for its scandalousness), (2) this was a publicity stunt devised to boost someone’s career and notoriety, or (3) Cohen is literally the most gullible human being in Washington, D.C., in which case I know a Nigerian prince who’d like to invest his money in futures.
I don’t care which you choose. It’s entertaining either way.
Brian LaSorsa is a writer in Phoenix, Arizona. His work has appeared at The Huffington Post, Taki’s Magazine, and elsewhere.