Rep. Don Young leaves a closed-door Republican strategy session dealing with the the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 31, 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Don Young rattles students with impertinent remarks

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has had quite an interesting year. In fact, just over the last four months, the Republican congressman has been caught manhandling a Capitol Hill aide who bothered him, threatening his Democratic challenger, and even clowning around on the House floor while a Republican colleague delivered remarks honoring a fallen American soldier.
But the Alaska Dispatch News, the state’s largest paper, reported the other day on Young’s appearance at a Wasilla High School assembly last week, which apparently didn’t go well.
Numerous witnesses say Young, 81, acted in a disrespectful and sometimes offensive manner to some students, used profanity and started talking about bull sex when confronted with a question about same-sex marriage.
“We really spend a lot of time at our school talking about how we treat each other,” Wasilla Principal Amy Spargo said Tuesday afternoon. “We just don’t talk to people that way.”
More concerning, school officials say, Young made what they called hurtful and insensitive statements about suicide just days after a Wasilla student took his own life.
Two weeks ago, a student at the school took his own life, and with the school still coming to grips with the tragedy, Don Young reportedly told students that suicide shows a lack of support from friends and family – which is largely the opposite of what professionals had told them.
“When I heard ‘a lack of support from family’ and I heard ‘a lack of support from friends,’ I felt the oxygen go out of the room, but I gasped as well,” Wasilla Principal Amy Spargo said. “It just isn’t true in these situations. It’s just such a hurtful thing to say.”
According to the Alaska Dispatch News’ account, Young, whose appearance was not recorded, proceeded to use “salty language” with the minors and “told a story that involved flying to Paris to get drunk.”
Perhaps talking to students isn’t the ideal forum for the longtime congressman?
While we’re on the subject, two weeks ago Young reportedly told his Democratic challenger backstage, “Don’t you ever touch me. Don’t ever touch me. The last guy who touched me ended up on the ground dead.”
In an interesting twist, the congressman’s office didn’t exactly deny Young’s curious boast.
CQ Roll Call asked Young about that comment – whether the last person to touch him really did end up dead. The congressman’s response: “There’s some truth to that.”
It’s unclear if he was suggesting there was some truth to what Dunbar said, or, more hair-raisingly, if there was some truth to someone ending up dead. Young didn’t elaborate, and his press secretary instructed CQ Roll Call to move on.
Jon Chait joked, “The good people of Alaska want to talk about the issues, not some esoteric inside-the-Beltway process story about whether their representative in Congress murdered somebody.”