When the U.S. House of Representatives adjourned its session late Wednesday night, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy did what he usually does on a Washington evening – he headed for the string of bars that line Pennsylvania Avenue west of the Capitol.
A hostess at the Hawk ‘n Dove, a popular hangout for elected officials and staff, especially young women who wouldn’t mind doing a little mattress dancing with a willing member of Congress, reports Kennedy popped in for a few pops late in the evening.
Capitol Hill Police, embarrassed by reports they gave Kennedy preferential treatment, spent Friday interviewing bartenders, waitresses and hostesses at several of the Pennsylvania Avenue bars that he frequents. More than one told the cops Kennedy stopped by their bar and had a few before heading home.
Kennedy, however, claims he wasn’t drinking but had mixed prescription medication, including the sleeping pill Ambien, a powerful drug that is known to induce sleepwalking.
On Thursday, Kennedy claimed he got up at 2:45 a.m. and drove to Capitol Hill under the impression he needed to vote. Instead, he narrowly missed crashing into a police car, then tried to outrun the cops before slamming into a security barrier near the Capitol.
“Obviously, I was disoriented,” Kennedy said Thursday.
Obviously. On Friday, he changed his story, saying he couldn’t remember a damn thing: Didn’t remember getting up, didn’t remember driving, didn’t remember wrecking his car, didn’t remember encountering the cops who cited him for minor traffic infractions but failed to give him a sobriety test.
But those who frequent the bars remember Kennedy as partying hard Wednesday night, drowning multiple drinks and then stumbling out of the Hawk ‘n Dove well after midnight.
“He’s a partier and a real good-time guy,” says one Capitol Hill aide who asked not to be identified. “He likes to drink and he usually gets blasted.”
Other aides on Capitol Hill report Kennedy shows up at his House office hung over and complaining that he “can’t remember” what happened the night before. His heavy drinking is hardly a secret on the Hill. Three weeks ago, he wrecked another car in Rhode Island and appeared drunk but, because he’s a Congressman and a Kennedy, escaped a sobriety test and walked.
All this leads me to believe young Kennedy didn’t head for the Mayo Clinic Friday for treatment for any addiction to prescription drugs. He went there to dry out, just as he did five months ago when he claimed going into rehab for an addiction to painkillers.
As a recovering alcoholic (sober 11 years, 11 months and one day), I run into a lot of serial liars like young Patrick Kennedy. They blame their drinking on prescription drugs, bad interactions with medications, fatigue and just about everything but what they really are – drunks who have yet to face up to their problem.
Kennedy may well be adding prescription drugs to his regular diet of booze but the core of his problem is alcoholism – a deadly, insidious disease that has haunted his family for generations.
An inability to face the Beast called alcoholism destroyed his father’s attempt to run for President.
It destroyed his mother.
And, if young Kennedy doesn’t face up to his real problem with the bottle, it will destroy him.