The Corner

An Unfair Attack Against Tom Cotton Gets New Life

This tweet, directed at Tom Cotton, is rocketing around the Internet, with more than 18,000 retweets as of 4:00 p.m. (huge by political Twitter standards). Writer Brian Murphy responded to Senator Tom Cotton’s complaints about delays in confirming Mike Pompeo with this:

What would a normal person think after reading this tweet? That Tom Cotton intentionally hurt a dying woman just to cause Obama pain? If that’s true, then that’s unquestionably a terrible thing to do, and it is far, far worse than a short delay in Pompeo’s confirmation.

So, what are the facts? It’s actually a pretty normal Washington story with a tragic twist. Murphy is apparently referring to Cassandra Butts, Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to the Bahamas. According to the New York Times’ Frank Bruni (no fan of Cotton’s) Cotton held up Butts’s nomination — along with nominations to the ambassadorships to Sweden and Norway — because of what Bruni called a “legitimate gripe.” Cotton was “trying to pressure” Obama to take action against the Secret Service after it leaked personal information about a congressional colleague.

Eventually, Cotton released his hold on the other two ambassadors. He kept the hold on Butts. Butts was a law-school classmate of Obama’s, and she said that Cotton told her that he kept the hold on her to inflict “special pain” on Obama. Cotton’s spokesperson denied he ever said any such thing and said that the senator was releasing his holds as the Secret Service investigation progressed.

Tragically, however, Butts died suddenly while she was still on hold. Bruni reported that she had acute leukemia and “didn’t know it and hadn’t felt ill until just beforehand.”

Delayed confirmations are nothing new in Washington. A delayed nomination designed to inflict maximum personal pain while a person slowly dies of cancer would be new — and dreadful. Instead, a qualified nominee was caught up in a fight not of her making and died suddenly before the fight was resolved. It’s a sad story, and yes it’s a story of the “dysfunctional pettiness” that sometimes dominates Washington, but it’s not, however, a story of hate or malice, and that’s an important distinction to make.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Sinking Collusion Ship

The entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative was always implausible. One, the Washington swamp of fixers such as Paul Manafort and John and Tony Podesta was mostly bipartisan and predated Trump. Two, the Trump administration’s Russia policies were far tougher on Vladimir Putin than were those of Barack ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Problem with Certainty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you having this read to you while you white-knuckle the steering wheel trying to get to wherever you’re going for the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. ... Read More