COOL TO COTTON: Yet another conservative writer finds Cotton deficient in the campaign department.

Daniel Larison, writing in the American Conservative, adds to the voices unimpressed by Republican Tom Cotton’s campaign. At least he didn’t say “bless his heart” or call him a “cold fish,” as the recent U.S. News article did.

But Larison, after quoting the U.S. News piece, goes on:


I can’t say I’m sorry to see that Cotton is having trouble in this campaign. The last thing that the Senate–or Arkansas–needs is yet another super-hawk preoccupied with finding new conflicts for the U.S. to fight, so if he ends up losing to Pryor that won’t be such a bad thing. Cotton’s struggles make it a little less likely that Republicans will take control of the Senate, which is all the more remarkable since he was widely touted as the best candidate recruited for this cycle. Regardless of his policy views, his political woes are a useful reminder that candidates that appear formidable “on paper” can very often prove to be a poor fit when it comes to winning over voters. As Pawlenty learned to his embarrassment in 2011, it is not remotely sufficient just to say what one thinks Washington policy elites and pundits want to hear while neglecting to address the voters’ concerns.

Larison joins others who thinks Cotton put a nickel in the Obama slot and figured that was all it took to win a jackpot.

Because Obama’s ratings are so poor in Arkansas, he may have assumed that all that he had to do to beat Pryor was to link him to the president and the rest would sort itself out. However, instead of easily toppling Pryor, whom most observers once thought to be the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent, Cotton is flailing mostly thanks to his own political ineptitude. There is still a long time before November and Cotton could still win in spite of himself, but unless something changes he is at real risk of blowing one of the GOP’s best chances for picking up a Senate seat in this election.

Here’s the thing. Running against Washington is popular here and everywhere. But the gifts that Washington bestows are NOT unpopular. Nor do Republican echo chamber presumptions always hold true with all voters.


Tom Cotton voted against the farm bill.

Tom Cotton voted against student loans.


Tom Cotton would privatize Medicare and wreck Medicaid.

Tom Cotton would privatize Social Security.

Tom Cotton doesn’t like voting for federal disaster aid.

(Cotton’s repeated votes against disaster aid — amid a few ayes he couldn’t avoid — include some straight-up-or-down votes, despite what his apologists claim. He also has opposed disaster aid payments unless they were accompanied by offsetting cuts in other budget services. His positions are  so untenable — not to mention heartless — that even Arkansas Republicans Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford (name glitch in original post), Steve Womack and John Boozman wouldn’t go along.)


Tom Cotton voted against paycheck fairness for women.

Tom Cotton voted against the violence against women act.

Tom Cotton doesn’t want women to have health insurance coverage for birth control pills if their employers don’t want to cover them.

Tom Cotton wants to extend “personhood” to zygotes. His view on the issue could mean the end the morning-after pill for rape victims and cripple in vitro fertilization programs.

Tom Cotton would intervene militarily just about anywhere.

He IS principled, make no mistake. He seems to come by his beliefs honestly, not simply because the greedy billionaires of the Club for Growth bankroll him. But he’s strange. Extreme for Arkansas, which retains a strong dose of populism on account of history and continuing poverty.

If Steve Womack had been the Senate candidate this year, Mark Pryor might as well have gone to the house. Happily for Pryor, a candidate even conservatives have a hard time warming to (save the permanent Beltway insiders schooling Cotton on running against Washington) is in his place.