Let’s hear it for the “hawkish upstart”

There isn’t much in the current political scene that brings a smile to my face, but the opening paragraph in this Politico article did:

Sen. Tom Cotton, the hawkish upstart who’s already made waves railing against the Iran nuclear deal and government surveillance programs, is now leading a new rebellion against a bipartisan effort to overhaul the criminal justice system — hoping to torpedo one of the few pieces of major legislation that could pass Congress in President Barack Obama’s final year.

Any guess as to where the sympathies of author, Seung Min Kim, lie?

I should remind Politico that Groucho Marx took Freedonia to war because Ambassador Trentino called him an upstart.

Senator Cotton is waging a different kind of war in his effort to stop the early release of thousands of convicted drug dealers in the midst of a heroin epidemic:

GOP tensions over a bill that would effectively loosen some mandatory minimum sentences spilled over during a party lunch last week, when Cotton (R-Ark.), the outspoken Senate freshman, lobbied his colleagues heavily against the legislation, according to people familiar with the closed-door conversation. The measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall with bipartisan support.

“It would be very dangerous and unwise to proceed with the Senate Judiciary bill, which would lead to the release of thousands of violent felons,” Cotton said later in an interview with POLITICO. “I think it’s no surprise that Republicans are divided on this question … [but] I don’t think any Republicans want legislation that is going to let out violent felons, which this bill would do.”

Cotton reportedly received support at the lunch from Senators David Perdue (another “upstart” willing to stand up for law and order and the rule of law) and Jim Risch.

Their efforts may be having the desire effect on Majority Leader McConnell. According to Politico:

[L]ast week, McConnell — who is often hesitant to press ahead on issues that divide his 54-member conference — indicated a breather of sorts on the bill, saying GOP senators would take some time to get educated on the measure.

Those comments discouraged some supporters, since any major pause could spell doom for the bill this year. In a couple of months, the GOP-led Congress will turn its attention to its top legislative priority — budget and appropriations bills — while individual lawmakers shift into full campaign mode.

I doubt that, once in full campaign mode, Republican legislators will want to explain to their constituents why they are backing President Obama’s pet legislation — a jail break for drug dealers. As Senator Risch reportedly asked during the party lunch: shouldn’t the GOP be a party of law and order?

Yes it should, for reasons of public safety and political prudence.

BY THE WAY: Politico gets it wrong when it claims that Senator Cotton has “railed” against government surveillance programs. The Senator has been a leading opponent of attempts to undermine our ability to find out what terrorists are plotting.


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