Your correspondent is a bit too white-line zombified after the long haul from Springdale to do much in-depth coverage tonight, but the digested version is this: If Sen. Tom Cotton hoped to find even a semi-welcoming crowd by situating his town hall in the Republican-friendly confines of Springdale, he was sorely mistaken. Other than one guy in the crowd displaying his Trump/Pence yard sign and a few others, friendlies were in short supply tonight.
Cotton, cordial to a fault, emerged before the raucous, capacity crowd at the 2,200 seat Pat Walker Performing Arts Center at Springdale High to a mixed chorus of clapping and boos. Other than polite applause when he introduced his mom and dad and a still moment as he led the crowd in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, his night didn’t get much better from there.
Climate change? It’s real, but what we need is more nuclear power and clean coal, because “the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine.” A question from a gravely ill young woman about whether he’ll commit to keeping the Affordable Care Act ban on pre-existing conditions intact, with no gap in coverage between Obamacare and the GOP’s promised replacement? “Let’s take a couple more comments and questions about healthcare.” (which led to gales of boos and chants of “DO YOUR JOB!”) Trump’s tax returns? That was an issue during the election, and Trump won. Russian interference in the election? As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he’s already helping look into that, but it’s classified. How can he talk about exploding deficits in the face of Trump’s gazillion dollar great wall? Border security is critical! Yeah, the crowd doesn’t like Trump, but sixty percent of the Arkansas electorate voted for Trump, so…
On the upside, Cotton gave a firm no when asked if he agrees with Trump that the New York Times, CNN, NBC and other news outlets are “enemies of the American people,” so we’ve got that going for us (no word on whether than means his office will finally start answering emails from Arkansas Times). Too, those in attendance got to see what Cotton’s face looks like when a teenager asks him from a balcony how he can support a man who wants to grab women by the pussy — a question to which Cotton responded, in part, by citing the Lincoln quote: “Stand with anyone that is right; stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.” By the way, that sound you heard around 7:30 tonight was Abraham Lincoln violently vomiting in the afterlife.
Overall, an all-American cluster, with Cotton slip-sliding over, under, around and through questions so fast that at times he seemed a blur, the audience there at every moment to meet him with rounds of chants and boos. What a stirring democratic spectacle it was. Whether it will alter Cotton’s behavior in the Senate a single iota remains to be seen, but the message was clearly sent and hopefully received: A not-insignificant number of Cotton’s constituents are as mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.