Arkansas' statewide paper of record, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, published a full-page Sunday editorial urging Republican congressman Tom Cotton to run for Democrat Mark Pryor's Senate seat:
EVEN before Tom Cotton makes his campaign against Mark Pryor for the U.S. Senate official, he’s become the target of an impressive smear campaign. And it’s got money to spare. To mention just one six-figure item, a couple of high-powered Democratic front groups (Patriot Majority USA and Senate Majority PAC) have already spent a combined $308,000 on distorting every aspect of the Republican congressman’s record. And their accusations are being duly seconded by Mark Pryor’s senior flack, Jeff Weaver. So much for the naive assurance from the other senator from Arkansas, John Boozman, that Senator Pryor was going to run a nice clean campaign for re-election. His campaign is already up to its press releases in mud.
The object of this whole, well financed and highly dubious exercise? To paint the gentleman from the Fourth District of Arkansas as an ogre who takes food out of the mouths of babes, refuses to help people in need after a devastating storm, and shortchanges Arkansas farmers, students and anybody who gets a Social Security check or uses his Medicare card at the doctor’s office. That cardboard Tom Cotton could have just walked onstage in a Victorian melodrama twirling his moustache as he prepares to tie the fair damsel to the railroad tracks in the path of an oncoming train.
Behind that phony stereotype is the real Tom Cotton, a comer who’s already drawn national attention because he dares vote his convictions-a rare sight indeed in Washington-though he’s got to know his every stand for principle is going to be distorted by an incumbent hell-bent on re-election. And not very picky about the tactics he uses to achieve that aim. Indeed, those tactics are so low that, even this early in the race, they’ve already got a tinge of desperation about them. Because nobody who knows the real Tom Cotton would recognize this caricature Mark Pryor and Co. are painting of him.
TOM COTTON’S real sin? He refuses to be stampeded by every special interest with its snout in the public trough. Which takes guts. Because hell hath no fury like a Washington lobby furious at being denied its traditional entree to the public purse.
Yes, Tom Cotton refused to vote for a budget-busting package of political pork thinly disguised as aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy last year. And, yes, this was the year he led the members of the House who finally separated farm subsidies from the food-stamp program, a cynical match put together decades ago in Congress to combine the votes of farm-state Republicans and urban Democrats for both programs without any real consideration of the merits of each.
It was only par for the low course that Tom Cotton’s efforts to save Social Security for future generations by reforming it would be depicted as some kind of plot against grandma. (As if bringing Social Security up to date-by, say, upping the retirement age in keeping with Americans’ increasing longevity-was just a greedy ploy.) Ditto, the congressman’s attempt to save Medicare. Or his opposition to Obamacare, a vast program that’s falling apart even before it’s in real operation.
The editorial concludes:
High among Tom Cotton’s qualifications for the U.S. Senate is that, even in a short political career, he’s shown true grit. Agree or disagree with this still young man, there’s never been any doubt about where he stands. Which is a refreshing contrast with the incumbent, who too often tries to be all things to all voters, and winds up being nothing much to many of them.