I want to note, upfront, that Rep. Derrick Van Orden’s Wikipedia page is a hot mess and needs to be cleaned up pronto. I think it’s reliable though when it tells me that Van Orden is a former Navy SEAL and current freshman Republican representing Wisconsin’s Third District. He seems to walk right on the edge of acceptable civilized behavior. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that he once berated a 17 year-old staffer at the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library because of a Pride Month display of books. He focused his rage in particular on a gay rabbit named “Marlon Bundo.” This happened in June of 2021 after he had run unsuccessfully for office in 2020 and declared his intention to run again in 2022.
The 40-page book put out by John Oliver’s weekly HBO news show, “Last Week Tonight,” tells the fictional story of how Marlon Bundo, former Vice President Mike Pence’s real-life rabbit, marries another rabbit of the same sex.
…“His voice was loud, he was aggressive, he had his finger jabbing into (the book) constantly,” Trautsch said. She described the situation as “very uncomfortable, threatening.”
Van Orden repeatedly demanded to know who set up the display so he could “teach them a lesson,” she said. She had set up the display but was too afraid of him to tell him, she said.
“He was full-on shouting at this point and he kept aggressively shoving the books around,” she said.
Van Orden ended up checking out every book from the display except one a library patron was already reading, she said. She went home and told her parents that she didn’t feel safe at work anymore.
“I was terrified that he would be outside, that there were be a collection of people outside waiting for me, waiting for anyone else,” she said. “We were terrified.”
Trautsch said she was afraid that Van Orden wouldn’t return the books or would return them damaged, but they came back within a week unscathed.
Two months after that incident, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that he was arrested at an Iowa airport for having a gun in his carry-on bag. He eventually pled guilty, paid a fine of a few hundred dollars and had to take a firearms safety course–a true embarrassment for a former SEAL.
Despite this highly dubious behavior, he was elected to Congress in 2022. But often past behavior is a good indicator of what someone will do in the future. For example, take yelling at kids. The Hill reports that Van Orden appears to have lost his damn mind on Thursday when he saw a small group of teenage Senate pages resting in the Capitol Rotunda.
“I haven’t been able to speak to him yet. I’ll call him today. I don’t know the situation, I saw what was reported,” McCarthy told reporters on Friday.
Let’s look at the nasty little details.
A transcript written by a page minutes after the incident, and obtained by The Hill, recalled Van Orden calling a group of 16- and 17-year-old pages “jackasses” and “pieces of s—” for laying in the Capitol rotunda early Thursday morning. The rotunda is a common spot for pages to relax when Senate business goes late…
The pages are a group of 16- and 17-year-olds who assist Senate operations, and when the Senate works late — as it did Wednesday night on National Defense Authorization Act amendments — pages generally rest nearby in the rotunda.
“Wake the f‑‑‑ up you little s‑‑‑‑. … What the f‑‑‑ are you all doing? Get the f‑‑‑ out of here. You are defiling the space you [pieces of s‑‑‑],” Van Orden said, according to the account provided by the page.
“Who the f‑‑‑ are you?” Van Orden asked, to which one person said they were Senate pages. “I don’t give a f‑‑‑ who you are, get out.”
“You jackasses, get out,” he added.
Here’s where I tell you the best past. Van Orden did not apologize when he realized the pages always rest there when Senate business runs late. Instead, he said the pages were dishonoring the dead because the Rotunda was used as a field hospital during the Civil War. So, does Van Orden have a record of respecting the sanctity of the Capitol grounds?
No, he does not. He was part of the mob that breached police barricades on January 6. Much of the mob continued into the Rotunda where they smeared feces throughout and left “blood on the marble bust of a former president.”
Two months after Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden lost his 2020 race, he joined “stop the steal” rioters on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol—and he paid for the trip with donor money left over from his failed campaign.
Van Orden, a former Navy SEAL and small-time actor, has previously acknowledged attending the Jan. 6 rally, but has repeatedly claimed he never entered the Capitol grounds. However, social media posts from the riot suggest that isn’t true.
A Facebook image from Jan. 6 shows Van Orden standing on a wall on the Capitol grounds that was inside a restricted area. (The Daily Beast recreated the photo on Friday and confirmed that Van Orden would have had to cross police barricades to reach that area.)
So, despite his denials, he did enter restricted grounds. He wasn’t arrested presumably because he didn’t proceed into the Capitol itself.
Now, the people of Wisconsin’s Third District sent Democrat Ron Kind to Congress for 26 straight years before he retired. Look what happens the second they decide to give a Republican a chance.
But they had plenty of warning signs that they ignored. Hopefully, the lesson is now learned and they will not return Van Orden to Congress next year.
As for Kevin McCarthy, I’ll be surprised if he does anything meaningful because he needs Van Orden’s vote.