National Journal gives Tom Cotton the cover treatment | Arkansas Blog

National Journal gives Tom Cotton the cover treatment

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THE PERFECT GOP CANDIDATE: But may be an automaton.
  • THE PERFECT GOP CANDIDATE: But may be an automaton.
Like much of what's been written on Tom Cotton in the national political press, the National Journal's new, nearly 4,000-word cover story on him is largely sympathetic. The piece begins with a Hot Springs woman adoringly reciting Cotton's CV (and marveling at his skinny waist) and wondering how he could be so perfect. It ends with the woman saying she'd tried hard to find something wrong with Cotton but couldn't.

That's pretty much the thesis of the NJ story: Cotton's so perfect he must have a fatal flaw, but we couldn't find it. The alternate web headline to the story is "Is Tom Cotton Too Good Too Be True?"

Of course, regular readers of the Arkansas Blog know a litany of things wrong with Cotton: He voted against the farm bill, pushed for government shutdown, punished students with higher loan costs, opposed the Violence Against Women Act, etc, etc. 

Some of those votes merit inclusion in the NJ story, but more in the context of how they fit with the Republican Party than what they mean for the country. 

The piece gives a lot of attention to Cotton's wacky columns for the Harvard Crimson, but otherwise doesn't uncover much about what he's like as person. Despite his recent engagement, there's no mention of it in the story. Nothing much about his family. 

This may've been the most revealing bit.

On July 4, 2009, [Cotton] wrote to friends, "We celebrate the Declaration's words on the Fourth, but those words must be vindicated with arms—then, now, and always. Our great troopers' bravery, skill, and fighting spirit are therefore inspiring and reassuring things to behold on the Fourth."

It was Cotton's steadfast commitment to these ideals even in his private life, demonstrated through the stilted epistolary style, even with some of his closest friends, that led them to wonder if they hadn't gotten past his polished exterior. Who was the man beneath all this pomp? "He's very careful to make sure that your perception that you have of him right now is all there is," says one.

A close second:

[One friend] remembers that Cotton was a fan of Plato, loved the novels of Jane Austen and the movie Titanic, and hated American Beauty, the 1999 Oscar winner that portrayed the dark underbelly of American suburbia.

Also, I hate-love this:

If you closed your eyes and just listened to him, it would be easy to imagine that Cotton comes from another generation—not the one into which he was born (Gen X), but maybe the baby boomers or even the Greatest Generation. But here he is, at 36, sitting in his congressional office, adopting the posture of a statesman far more senior than he: long fingers steepled together contemplatively, longer limbs crossed and folded at 90-degree angles.




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