When I first heard Tom Cotton talk, I knew he was a dangerous man. He was not only ambitious—he spent only one term in the House of Representatives before deciding he could defeat Democrat Mark Pryor in Arkansas’ 2014 U.S. Senate race—but he was a Harvard lawyer and an Army veteran who knew how to politically exploit his military exploits and take warmongering to new heights.
The 37-year-old senator isn’t shy about his I-ain’t-waitin’ ambition:
Some people say I’m a young man in a hurry. They’re right.
That quote is from a New Republic article published in January in which the author, David Ramsey, offered this description of Cotton given by Ed Kilgore, a progressive writer:
“[H]e manages to be a True Believer in the most important tenets of all the crucial Republican factions. He’s adored by Neocons, the Republican Establishment, the Tea Folk, the Christian Right, and most of all by the Con-Con cognoscenti that draw from both these last two categories.”
If that isn’t bad enough, Ramsey offered more:
Cotton…has been called the “party’s most aggressive next-generation advocate for military action overseas.” For Cotton, the Iraq War was a “just and noble war”; on foreign policy, he has said, “George Bush largely did have it right.” Cotton argues for an aggressive, interventionist military posture abroad, more defense spending, and an executive branch empowered on matters of national security. Pick a topic—Syria, Iran, Russia, ISIS, drones, NSA snooping—and Cotton can be found at the hawkish outer edge of the debate, demanding a continuation or escalation of the Cheney line more consistently and vociferously than nearly any of his peers.
That was written in January. This same Tom Cotton is now the leader of saboteurs in the U.S. Senate who are trying like hell to get the United States into a real war with Iran. By now you have heard all about Cotton’s “Open Letter,” signed by 47 Republican senators (including Missouri’s Roy Blunt) and addressed to “the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The letter, as far as I can tell, is completely unprecedented in American history. For all of its posturing about educating the Iranians on how our constitutional system works, it was obviously designed to make right-wingers here in the United States aware that Republicans are doing all they can to blow up the negotiations between the Obama administration and the leaders of Iran over how best to prevent the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon—without spilling the blood of American soldiers.
President Obama responded to all the reactionary bluster this way:
I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.
The President is wrong, of course. The coalition between American hard-liners and Iranian hard-liners is not “unusual,” especially given the pathological hatred for Obama among conservative Republicans. Nor is it “ironic” for right-wingers to want “to make common cause” with other right-wingers in Iran.
Irony is defined as “a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected.” Republican reactionaries, led by a warmonger like Tom Cotton, appealing to Iranian reactionaries in a theocratic state is exactly what I expected.
So, Senator Cotton’s letter and its Roy Blunt-endorsed message is not ironic, Mr. President. It’s par for the very sad and strange course of contemporary Republican politics.