February 23, 2017 4:18 am -

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is one of the most unrelentingly shrill conservatives in the “upper chamber” – a walking, posturing one-man roster of Heritage Foundation and NRA talking points who has been positioning himself as a front-rank voice of American conservatism.

Today, he held a town hall in Springdale – and was unrelentingly hammered by Arkansas voters.


Cotton (R-Ark.) faced hundreds of angry constituents at a town hall Wednesday night who grilled him for two hours on the Affordable Care Act, immigration, President Donald Trump’s administration and other issues.

The town hall, held at a high school in Springdale, Arkansas, was raucous throughout. About 2,000 people packed the auditorium and frequently drowned Cotton out with cheers, boos and jeers. Some attendees waved red cards when the senator said something they didn’t agree with.

The uproar hit a peak when a 25-year-old constituent pressed the senator on whether he intends to preserve the Affordable Care Act’s treatment protections for people with preexisting conditions. (Congressional Republicans, including Cotton, have vowed to repeal Obamacare but have yet to lay out a comprehensive plan for replacing it.) She kicked off her remarks by asking who in the auditorium was affected by the Affordable Care Act:

She then explained she suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition that affects the body’s connective tissues and blood vessels.

“Without coverage for preexisting conditions, I will die,” she said. “Will you commit today to replacement protections for those Arkansans like me who will die or lose their quality of life or otherwise be unable to be participating citizens, trying to get their part of the American dream? Will you commit to replacement in the same way that you’ve committed to repeal?”

The auditorium erupted in cheers as the crowd gave her a standing ovation. Cotton then attempted to dodge the question and asked for others in the audience to offer comments before he gave an answer.

That didn’t go over well with the bulk of the crowd, which began booing and chanting, “Do your job.” Cotton eventually returned to her question but largely evaded her request for specifics on how he intends to preserve coverage for preexisting conditions.

Some would call Cotton a weasel – but that would be an insult to weasels everywhere.

The Hill, which in recent years seems to have taken a somewhat conservative slant, saw it this way:

[D]roves of protesters jeered and heckled [Cotton] over topics ranging from the Affordable Care Act to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

They almost say it as if it’s a bad thing! But I digress…

Another woman chided Cotton for allegedly sending her the same letter over and over when she tried to get a hold of him.

“I have sent you one message after the other, sir, about our family,” one woman said. “I live just down the road a few places from your office, and I have invited you into our home, and not a word, except a classic, regular letter sent.” …

Some attendees also urged Cotton to take a tougher stance on Russian interference in the presidential election and allegations of ties between President Trump and the Kremlin. One protester carried a banner reading: “If Hillary [Clinton] did this, you would have already locked her up.”

One attendee punctured a favorite right-wing talking point.

[A] woman stood up, introduced herself, and said, “I am not a paid protester.” A lot of people at the town hall applauded wildly.

Cotton said this in response:

“I don’t really care if anybody is paid or not, you’re all Arkansans and I’m glad to hear from you. So I know… there’s been some talk about that in the media, some politicians have said that. I just want to say thank you to everyone for coming out tonight, whether you agree or me or disagree with me. This is part of what our country’s all about.”

He couldn’t even win an argument with a seven-year-old:

Toby had the microphone.

“Donald Trump thinks the wall is more important than kids’ games and stuff,” Toby began. “Donald Trump makes Mexicans not important to people who are in Arkansas who like Mexicans, like me.”

He continued, “And he’s deleting all the parts in PBS Kids just to make a wall. He shouldn’t do all that stuff.”

Cotton’s answer was terrible. After tossing the stock “we are a melting pot and we’re all one people” answer, he told this 7-year old child that “we need to help Mexico be better partners.”

“We want to help them deal with their problems with drug cartels and crime and help them grow their economy,” he blathered, to a 7-year old child who wants PBS Kids and not a wall.

“We also have to protect our own citizens from that, and that’s where the wall comes in,” Cotton went on.

It was absurd, and the room was not impressed. You can hear Toby chanting “PBS! PBS!”

You can watch the entire event as seen from the press pool camera. We recommend you prepare a lot of popcorn first.


D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.