DEBT DEFAULT NO BIGGIE: So suggests Rep. Tom Cotton

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  • DEBT DEFAULT NO BIGGIE: So suggests Rep. Tom Cotton

A Washington Monthly reporter joins the ranks of people marveling at the extremist rhetoric that flows from the mouth of Tom Cotton, the Republican Beltway consultant who rented a place in Arkansas to be elected with Club for Growth money to 4th District Congress.


Ed Kilgore elaborated on a comment I noted with an exclamation point when linking to a Politico profile of Cotton.

In an interview in his still-bare office a few hours before being sworn in, Cotton told us he would have voted against both Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” tax on millionaires, and the final tax hike that got the country off the fiscal cliff. He vowed to vote against raising the debt limit in two months, absent the sort of massive cuts the president opposes. He said he is more concerned about the “cataclysmic” consequences of inaction than the “short-term market corrections” of default. “I’d like to take the medicine now,” he said.

Easy for Cotton to say, I guess, that a debt default that triggered billions in market losses would be just a correction. Writes Kilgore:


If the greater meaning of Cotton’s statement isn’t clear enough, he’s calling a potential return to national and global recession a “short-term market correction,” and “medicine,” the latter reference suggesting that phenomena like millions of people losing their livelihoods is good for the country if it ultimately leads to millions of people losing government benefits.

VandeHei and Allen do not mention the controversy Cotton aroused back in 2006 when he was serving as an infantry officer in Iraq. Having read a New York Times article on a covert Bush administration operation to gain access to the financial records of American citizens without warrant or subpoena in an effort to find possible links to terrorist networks, Cotton penned a letter to the Times suggesting that reporters and editors responsible for the story be prosecuted for espionage.

This is clearly not a man of nuanced views.

And Kilgore wasn’t done there.

Cotton is emblematic of a brand of movement conservatism that has slowly taken over the Republican Party after decades of struggle; saw its ultimate validation in the 2010 midterm elections; and isn’t about to loosen its grip on its trophy of ideological war. Its shock troops believe in a rigid, permanent model of governance that is impervious not only to Washington power games and deal-making, but to the social and economic consequences of its preferred policies and indeed to all contrary empirical evidence. Most of them believe the destruction of the Welfare State is the only path consistent with patriotism and constitutional government; many (I don’t know enough about Cotton to know if he shares this particular motivation) believe their ideology reflects obedience to the eternal laws of Almighty God.

So yeah, it kind of matters that so many people like Cotton carry so much weight in the House Republican Caucus. Asking them to be “realistic” is like staring into the eyes of a goat and expecting to find a glimmer of comprehension. It just ain’t happening, and the punditocracy had best remember that next time it is surprised by right wing intransigence, which will shine on brightly through all the haze of conventional politics.

From the days in college when he doubted the educational value of the Internet, to opposition to tax increases for billionaires, to opposition to aid for disaster victims, to opposition to any form of gun legislation, to opposition to women in combat roles, to encouraging the idea of an Iraq role in 9/11, to support for prosecution of journalists as spies, to this blithe lack of concern for a government debt default, a picture of Cotton does begin to emerge doesn’t it? Tiny Tim, come home from Searcy. Maybe you aren’t so bad after all. We could live in the 4th.


PS — Slate piles on Cotton for his anti-woman remark. If women in general are less fit than men for combat roles — IF, mind you, because Cotton has not offered any evidence — why stop them from testing for the jobs?