February 24, 2021

"A female passenger in an evening gown ran from the car, climbed the stone parapet along the Tidal Basin and... leaped headfirst into the frigid, inky water. Her splashdown would ripple into one of the capital’s most infamous sex scandals."

From "Fanne Foxe, ‘Argentine Firecracker’ at center of D.C. sex scandal, dies at 84" (WaPo). 

Standing near the car — drunk and bleeding — was her paramour, 65-year-old Wilbur Mills, the gravelly voiced chairman of the tax-writing U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and a man esteemed as a pillar of Bible Belt rectitude and respectability. The Arkansas Democrat, an ascetic grind who shepherded Medicare and other influential legislation through Congress, was also widely regarded as the most powerful man in government after the president. “I never vote against God, motherhood or Wilbur Mills,” a Democratic colleague once told a reporter.

But on that October morning, Ms. Battistella’s eyes were bruised. Mills’s Coke-bottle glasses were smashed, and his nose was badly scratched. He reeked of alcohol. And his 16-year hold on the federal purse strings was suddenly imperiled....

ADDED: "Ms. Battistella" = Annabel Battistella AKA Fanne Foxe. 

56 comments:

Yancey Ward said...

What a different world that must have been.

Nonapod said...

Somehow these sorts of cartoonish sex scandals seem sort quaint these days, involving horny old codgers and tipsy tarts. Maybe it's just my perception but the sex scandals we get these days seem far darker, Epstein, Weinstein, Bill Cosby ect.

Oso Negro said...

Ho hum. Just another US Senator.

mikee said...

So "paramour" was the deliciously ribald euphemism for him being a John?

mccullough said...

An “evening gown”?

What an evasive description

Howard said...

Senator Blutarsky

Charlie said...

I can't get past the paywall but as I recall Boston's Combat Zone figured in this story somehow.

n.n said...

Principles and principals. Diversity of individuals, minority of one.

Danno said...

Federal tax policy has never been the same since Wilbur Mills.

WK said...

Not many details around the smashed glasses and scratched nose. Didn’t sound like a car accident was mentioned.

Jim Gust said...

That takes me back. While a student in college, I saw Ms. Foxe perform in Boston's combat zone, I think it was the Pilgrim theater. Unremarkable, as I recall.

Years later I went to a professional luncheon sponsored by an insurance company, at which Mills was the featured speaker. He was no longer Ways and Means Chairman, but there was much excited speculation during lunch about what he might talk about, because his grasp of the tax code was legendary.

In the event, he said absolutely nothing of consequence. He had become, in effect, an early form of clickbait.

PM said...

Always confused him with Earl Butz of LS, TP and a WPTS fame.

BarrySanders20 said...

Even the nicknames were better then. You just don't hear about Argentinian Firecrackers anymore. I'd have liked to have met one back when I could handle such dangerous things.

Rory said...

If you're not smiling, you're just not old enough to remember.

ronalddewitt said...

He was a representative, not a senator.

Robert Edick said...

Good times, great memories. Didn't he own a talking horse?

MadisonMan said...

Early October, I'm not sure why the Tidal Basin waters would be called "frigid".

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Today, high profile Democrats can fuck Chinese spies without even raising an eyebrow in the press.

Rob said...

The first well-written story in the Washington Post in ages. We learn the word "ecdysiast" and that Wilbur Mills claimed to have no memory of the entire year of 1974. Good-bye Fanny Foxe, the Argentine Firecracker.

Roughcoat said...

Which is better, an Argentinian Firecracker or a Mexican Spitfire?

Mr Wibble said...

Which is better, an Argentinian Firecracker or a Mexican Spitfire?

Both, at the same time.

tommyesq said...

Wilbur Mills (party not identified by WaPo) - some things never change.

Achilles said...

This is just the type of person that gravitates towards a position in society you lie to get into and have power over other people once you get into it.

Ann Althouse said...

Back then, anyone Hispanic was talked about as if they were hot and spicy.

rehajm said...

Spin or PR must not have been invented yet...

Roughcoat said...

Back then, anyone Hispanic was talked about as if they were hot and spicy.

Note, Battistella is an Italian name; Annabel Battistella was, like so many Argentinians, of Italian descent. Argentina may be the least Hispanic of all South American nations. The Argentinian population is an amalgam of European ethnicities. E.g., lots of Scots, Welsh, and Basque. My Cuban female friend asserts that Argentinians are, for that very reason, the most arrogant of South American peoples -- second only in this regard, perhaps, to Cubans.

Chennaul said...

Jack Kelly did this report. He also was the first to report on Chappaquiddick.

Career[edit]
In 1967, the family moved to Brighton, Massachusetts, where he worked for Ross Laboratories. In 1968, he joined WCAS (AM) as a reporter and producer of documentaries. In 1969, while working for WEZE, Kelly won an area wide reputation for hard hitting investigative reporting, including the first story on Senator Edward Kennedy's involvement in the Chappaquiddick incident three hours before any other station in the country had the story. In 1970, he joined WBZ (AM) News, where he significantly contributed as investigative reporter for several years, earning awards for excellence in reporting from United Press International. Kelly joined WNAC-TV in 1974 as an investigative reporter.

Death[edit]
John Kelly died in the Blackfriars Massacre in 1978, aged 34.

Roughcoat said...

Cuban joke:

Question: When does a Mexican man become a Spaniard?
Answer: When he marries your daughter.

Come on! That's funny!

Chennaul said...

https://youtu.be/nN120kCiVyQ

The Boys Are Back in Town

Joe Smith said...

What is it with Democrats, women, and water?

Joe Smith said...

"Back then, anyone Hispanic was talked about as if they were hot and spicy."

And today, all black women are sassy.

You just can't talk about it.

Joe Smith said...

"Note, Battistella is an Italian name; Annabel Battistella was, like so many Argentinians, of Italian descent."

It's a "Boys from Brazil" kind of thing...

My father tells me we have distant relatives in Argentina...after the war a lot of Italians headed for safe harbor...

The Mexican joke is funny : )

madAsHell said...

Who in the hell is loading local newscasts from the 1970's onto YouTube??

Rick.T. said...

This was Fanne's one chance and she let us down.*


* I know it was Fancy but it still scans. Written by Bobbie Gentry and not Reba McEntire.

Rory said...

"Back then, anyone Hispanic was talked about as if they were hot and spicy."

There was overflow from Charo.

Skeptical Voter said...

Ah nothing like a drunken lovers quarrel. I lost all respect for a long ago Senator from Colorado--who was a good friend of Teddy Kennedy's--- when I heard a rumor that he had shagged a rather ugly female member of his staff on his office floor. The action, his taste and his judgment were all subject to serious question. There is some truth to the aphorism that Washington D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people. (And bad actors).

The Godfather said...

Let's remember -- those of us who are old enough -- that the big deal in 1974 wasn't that a powerful Congressman was having an affair with a stripper; THAT had been common knowledge among the press in DC for years. The BIG DEAL was that the press now reported it. This was supposed to be a breakthrough in honest reporting about powerful political figures.

Just like, say, the media coverage of Hunter Biden's laptop. Oh, you mean the press didn't give that the same coverage as Wilbur Mills' affair? What the f*ck happened to the press?

Oh, I see.

Iman said...

#Grandpa’sInTehPampas

Titus said...

This is a great story. I went to the pilgrim theater when I moved here. The area was known as the combat zone because military guys would get pussy there. Now it is home to luxury condos.

The post did mention he was a democrat

Love her name too.

Iman said...
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Iman said...

Pinche huero...

Hercules, not that one though said...

Ann says, "Back then, anyone Hispanic was talked about as if they were hot and spicy."

I don't know about 'Hispanic'. That's an educated 'White, Wisconsin' term. Hispanic. Lump everyone together. Cuban? Are they the same as Mexicans? Are they the same as Puerto Ricans?

To be fair, I think Puerto Ricans are hot and spicy. Like Phillipinos. If you take up with a Puerto Rican girl, or a Philipino girl, man you got to up your game. No one wants to mess with Michelle Malkin.

Puerto Rican girls? Oh man...John Henry, get I get an amen.

John Holland said...

Another age indeed. Nearly 7 whole minutes devoted to one story. Nowadays, we impeach Presidents in under 6.

Roughcoat said...

Cuban? Are they the same as Mexicans? Are they the same as Puerto Ricans?

Don't ask me, ask a Cuban. Go ahead, I dare you.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

Well, she had a full life and lived to 84. She wasn't ground down by all that grinding. She doesn't look like she'd take a suggestion for a game of strip poker as an intolerable offense. I can see what Wilbur saw in her.....On that same newscast, the following story was about a drug dealer who got shot by the police during a deal gone bad. No outrage. The mother of one of the other dealers disowned her kid in court. Times change.

Roughcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stever said...

I imagine Mills had some influence on young WJC.

KellyM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Biff said...

Joe Smith said..."It's a "Boys from Brazil" kind of thing...

My father tells me we have distant relatives in Argentina...after the war a lot of Italians headed for safe harbor..."


I can't speak for your distant cousins, but the bigger picture is a bit more complicated. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of Italians immigrated to Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and other Latin American countries, following a nearly identical pattern as seen with the United States. While the vast majority of Italian immigration to Argentina had occurred before the 1930s, an additional 380,000 or so Italians immigrated to Argentina in the decade after World War II.

One interesting consequence of such early and large immigration from Italy to what had been a country with a relatively small population is that more than half of Argentina's current population claims at least some Italian ancestry. Arguably, no other country in modern times has been as influenced by Italian immigration as Argentina. Even the local variety of Spanish spoken in Argentina has significant influences from southern Italian dialects. Interestingly, many Argentine families that speak Italian speak the same Neapolitan dialect as New Jersey Italians ("gabagool" instead of "capocollo") since they share similar geographic origins.

John henry said...

Amen, Herc, amen

John Henry

BUMBLE BEE said...

Ecdysiast... The second time in my 70+ years I've heard that term. The other was in Playboy, as a yout, describing Miss Candy Barr. She sure was!

RMc said...

drunk and bleeding

...is no way to go through life, Congressman.

Tina Trent said...

Better hot and spicy than dumb and horny, per Cuomo Guido humor, which certainly wasn’t not funny.

Why is so much ethnic humor = food + sex?

Lots of Sicilians in Cuba too. My Deacon was one. His father owned a cigar factory in Ybor City, but he and his employees came from Cuba and traveled back and forth regularly. Castro came around and was fundraising in Tampa for the revolution, and my Deacon’s father called all his employees to the shop floor and said he’d give anyone supporting Castro a free one-way ticket back to Cuba for their whole families, but they’d better not show up in Tampa again. Nobody took him up on the offer, and Castro didn’t come around anymore.

Why not just call her a whore?

mikee said...

PM,
Earl Butz was one of the few Cabinet Members to be forced to resign for making a joke, as opposed to resigning because of being a joke.

Hannio said...

"Question: When does a Mexican man become a Spaniard?
Answer: When he marries your daughter."

There was an episode of The Office where cultural sensitivity training was going on, and in one of the meetings Oscar Nunez described his parents as Mexicans who immigrated to the US. Michael chided him for calling them Mexicans, asking, isn't there a less offensive word?

Probably couldn't get away with that today.