New Republican Rep. U.S. Tom Cotton has already set himself far outside the mainstream by voting against flood insurance payments to Hurricane Sandy victims.
Yesterday, he won still more national attention for unhinged extremism. In the course of making a CNN appearance to express his opposition to President Obama's nomination of Republican Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary, Cotton allowed that he not only supported the war in Iraq but that he still believes the "evidence is inconclusive" on whether Iraq and Saddam Hussein had a hand in 9/11. That notion has been ditched by all but the most deluded, except maybe Darth Cheney.
The Bush administration insisted both that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was working with al Qaeda before launching the Iraq War. However, the 9/11 Commission concluded in 2004 that no link existed between Iraq and al Qaeda or the attacks. A decade later, Cotton is perpetuating a soundly discredited myth that even former president George W. Bush no longer believes.
The 4th District's new rep is really making a name for himself. More out-of-touch than George W. Bush.
UPDATE: Tom Cotton does, as Darrell Royal once said, "dance with who brung him." Brung him the cash. From Politico column today:
Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, a veteran of two wars and with a pair of Harvard degrees, got a pleasant surprise last year that helped him win a very competitive Republican primary — and then a very easy general election. It was a FedEx envelope full of checks that he didn’t ask for, from a group he hardly knew — the Club for Growth.
Tucked inside that envelope and several to come were $300,000 in checks from Club members, enough to help lift the 35-year-old former Army captain from obscurity — and 47 percentage points down in his first internal poll — to the fourth floor of the Cannon House Office Building. The Republican’s district, the Arkansas 4th, is home to 33 rural counties — and a conservative America that the media and much of the Republican establishment are struggling to comprehend.
The Club for Growth was putting its money on the most conservative Republican in a very conservative primary field — and got its guy in Cotton.
There's lots more, including a receptiveness to U.S. default on its obligations!:
... 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, ... 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. Cotton has been flooded with calls in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings, 9-to-1 against supporting any new gun control. ...
... The Club ... intervenes in contested Republican primaries, often putting its money on the most conservative of a conservative bunch ... Chris Chocola, ... president of the Club for Growth, ... zeroes in on candidates who have been overlooked or opposed by party leaders: ... Cotton, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. ... 'The establishment opposed them, and now they're talked about as the future stars of the party,' Chocola said. ... [E]ven though nearly 1.4 million more people voted for a Democrat for the House in November than voted for a Republican, according to a tally by David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report, the GOP won 33 more seats than the Democrats. Many in the media ... often underestimate just how conservative and how impervious to criticism and leadership browbeating these members are."
In other words, screw the 4th District should their wants conflict with those of the Club for Growth.
UPDATE: Doug Coutts, Cotton's chief of staff, wants to provide further context on the CNN interview:
I saw your report this morning about Tom's appearance on CNN yesterday. I don't think it presents the full story because it omits the question from Wolf to which Tom responded. I'm not asking for a correction, but I believe it would be fair to update the post this explanation:
"Wolf Blitzer asked Tom if Iraq 'had anything to do with al Qaeda or the attack on 9/11.' Tom responded that 'the evidence is inconclusive' because the evidence points in different directions on this compound question. Though there's not evidence that Iraqi officials knowingly aided the 9/11 attacks, there is evidence of contacts between Iraqi officials and al Qaeda operatives, as shown by the 9/11 Commission Report and subsequent discoveries of Iraqi intelligence documents. Your reporting focused on the second part of Wolf's question, not the first."
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