For reasons known only to National Journal's Ron Fournier, he included this moment in a column on "wince-worthy" debate moments:
Monday was a bad day for all but the most masochistic voters. In Arkansas, an ambitious, underachieving first-term House member reached for the Senate by linking Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor to Obama. "A vote for Mark Pryor is a vote for more of Barack Obama's policies," Tom Cotton said. It was an essentially accurate quote, but Pryor pounced with a charge that cast Cotton as an example of what's wrong with modern politics.
"He hasn't passed anything since he's been in the House," Pryor said. "Even though he was there for one month, and he ran a poll on the Senate race—didn't even know where the bathrooms were, but nonetheless now thinks he's entitled to be in the Senate.... Congressman, you don't have the reputation, ability, or the desire to walk across the aisle to get things done in Washington."
Of course, Pryor himself joined the Senate when he was around two years older than Cotton, so there's not exactly a world of difference in maturity. As for Cotton's supposed "underachieving," Fournier doesn't say what he's basing that judgment on. As for legislative accomplishments, in Pryor's nearly twelve years in the Senate the one thing we can point to is his sponsorship of the Drought Information Act of 2013. It's not nothing, but it ain't much for a two term Senator. More broadly "getting things done" has not been a hallmark of Pryor and his Democratic colleagues. He was part of a Senate majority that didn't pass a budget for over three years while the country spent over $10 trillion. As for crossing the aisle, Pryor based on his superficial voting record, claim he's been more independent than most Democratic senators, but that's largely a concession to Arkansas' reddening electorate. Anyone who knows how the Senate's been run under Harry Reid knows that those Pryor's votes against his party likely more in common with papal dispensations than exercises of his own autonomy. (Pryor was caught on tape at a fundraiser disparaging Reid's iron-fisted control of the Senate, but the fact he finds this so problematic and has not said so publicly is not exactly a profile in courage.) He certainly voted in lockstep with his party on controversial and damaging legislation such as the stimulus and Obamacare -- legislation that his own constituents and Tom Cotton opposed, by the way.
And interestingly enough, Cotton has held national office about as long as Barack Obama did before pursuing the presidency. If ambition and inexperience are disqualifying here, Pryor has some serious explaining to do about his support of the president. Unless of course, Pryor is willing to admit that Obama's disastrous policies and parade of scandals are a result of his inexperience. Which would be something, but then Pryor would have to admit why he voted for so many of those same policies. Heck, Pryor may not be able to even admit he voted for Obama. That seems to be all the rage among Democratic candidates these days.
It should be obvious that Pryor's attack on Cotton's alleged ambition and inexperience is a baseless deflection away from Pryor's own record. Pryor is, in effect, saying that his experience and seniority matter more than defending the merits of the policies he's supported and that Cotton is critical of. In fairness to Fournier, he should be commended for often being appropriately critical of Democrats and Obama when the vast majority of his peers are not. But Politico also played-up the same transparently dumb Pryor remarks in their write-up of the debate. And unfortunately, this attack on Cotton is perfectly emblematic of the kind of brain-dead, circle-the-wagons attacks Republicans constantly face from the beltway's left-of-center media consensus. When it comes to Democratic candidates, pundits seem to reflexively defend the devil they know, without ever acknowledging what's devilish about them.