John Kennedy

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Kennedy fancies himself a quip artist. He launched what he must have thought was a doozey during a congressional hearing last week. At issue was whether the IRS should contract with Equifax to the tune of more than $7 million in light of the fact the credit reporting company recently suffered a huge data breach impacting 145 million people.

"You realize, to many Americans right now, that looks like we're giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the mini-bar," Kennedy wisecracked to the Equifax CEO.

The 31-year old Lohan has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse but is reportedly clean and sober now. Good for her. Kennedy, always in search of a zippy one-liner hoping to catch the attention of the media, must have seen Lohan’s former addiction as a golden opportunity to appear clever. He was anything but.

Lohan’s parents didn’t like Kennedy’s attack on their daughter and are encouraging her to sue. The actress has kept silent about it other than tweeting a picture of herself holding a water bottle with the caption, “This is the only thing I keep in my mini bar these days.”

Kennedy was just trying to be funny. But being funny is a tricky thing. Forcing funny often produces awkwardness. Kennedy forces funny a lot. Funny is best when it comes naturally from the gut. The senator should stop trying so hard to be funny, especially when it is at the expense of the struggle of others.

Maybe I’m a little sensitive on the subject of alcohol addiction because I struggled to quit drinking for many years. I wanted to stop so badly, but I just couldn’t. I drank heavily most weekends, and each weekend I thought this would be the end of it. But the next weekend, I was right back at it. It was hell. I felt like I was in prison. I abused booze because it was the only way I knew how to mask my pain. It’s been years since I’ve struggled with alcohol. I finally got to the point where I reached out for the emotional healing I desperately needed. I feel for those who still live in that prison. I can tell you firsthand,  it is awful.

I’m sure Kennedy wasn’t thinking it through when he made light of Lohan’s struggle. In fact, I am glad he is my senator. On the issue most important to me, protecting the unborn, he is rock solid. And Kennedy is clearly a defender of the free market and seems to resist those pushing for an overly burdensome bloated government. I doubt there is much the senator and I disagree on. But as a U.S. senator, he’s a powerful guy. He should watch his words closely and resist personal attacks. To much is given, much is required.

It sure seems as if politics has become meaner and nastier lately. President Donald Trump is certainly no help with some of the stuff coming out of his mouth. But in his defense, Trump has been attacked more viciously by politicos and media types than any man in history. Trump and his supporters have been called Nazis more often than actual Nazis.

I find the personal attacks coming much more from the left than the right. For some reason, Trump elicits such hatred from most Democrats and even some Republicans. And the media! Have we ever seen anything like the deeply rooted bitterness, vitriol, and animus from the media directed toward Trump? And his supporters are equally hated. This "Trump supporters are racists" charge is really getting ridiculous. How many times have talking heads used the term "dog whistle," implying everything the president says is geared covertly to appeal to racists? Give me a break.

We need more statesmanship from our leaders both on the left and right, but especially from the left.  Kennedy could set a good example by inviting Lohan to his office to hear firsthand about her struggles and how she overcame her addiction.

Dan Fagan, a former TV and radio broadcaster who lives in Metairie, writes a column that appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Email him at