William Saletan writes in Slate
about Sen. Tom Cotton’s dishonesty and the alarming prospect that he has been mentioned as potential director of the CIA. The opening:

Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, is becoming President Trump’s right arm in the Senate. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and Cotton, a right-wing ideologue, is helping to steer the president. Either way, Trump’s behavior in the immigration debate—turning against a legislative compromise after Cotton was summoned to a White House meeting to oppose it—illustrates the young senator’s influence. In fact, Trump is said to be considering him as the next CIA director.

Cotton’s emergence is alarming. In part, that’s because what endears Cotton to Trump—and makes them particularly dangerous together—is Cotton’s unflinching willingness, in pursuit of an agenda, to say things that aren’t true.

Saletan proceeds to detail some of the lowlights of the Cotton record. His blockage of an ambassadorial appointment for a dying woman because she was a friend of Barack Obama. His hardest of hard lines on immigration issues.  Defending Trump on his sexual misconduct and dealings with Russians. Calling others liars about events of which he is lying (the “shithole” eruption by Donald Trump). His parsing of Lindsey Graham remarks to evade the truth about his reaction to Trump’s bigotry toward Haitians, Africans and Central Americans.


Finally, in talking to a conservative pal Cotton said what happened in the Trump meeting didn’t matter. Writes Saletan:

What matters to the American people,” he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Jan. 16, “is what our immigration policy will be, not what was or was not said in a private meeting and then leaked selectively and dishonestly.” But a week later, Cotton returned to Hewitt’s show, this time peddling his own leaks. “Some of the Democrats with whom we’ve negotiated,” he told Hewitt, “have expressed privately but explicitly their hopes that the enforcement and security mechanisms of a compromise will be struck down in federal courts … That’s one reason why it’s hard to negotiate in good faith.”

That’s Tom Cotton. He lies about a meeting and then lies about the people who truthfully reported it. He calls them leakers and then leaks against them. He talks about good faith as he schemes and smears. In the Senate, he’s a menace. As CIA director, he could do far worse.

I don’t think Saletan will be scoring many Cotton interviews or get return calls from his taxpayer-paid “press” office. Those niceties are reserved for the friendlies, like his go-to Arkansas outlet that yesterday depicted in an “exclusive” that Cotton was open to compromise on immigration.


Open to compromise. He merely repeated what he’s been saying for weeks — he’d really, really like to help the Dreamers facing eviction from the only country they’ve ever known (his idea of compromise), but only with a list of punitive conditions (deporting their parents, end of “chain migration,” walls, end of the immigration lottery, cuts in immigration, merit admission and so on). This happens to echo the position Donald Trump took yesterday. Or maybe Trump was just echoing Cotton.

Either way, their crocodile tears for the dreamers, whose eviction proceedings are already underway and who enjoy broad public support, are but a PR ploy to spin an appearance of compassion where it is in very short supply.