On the Senate floor yesterday afternoon, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) shared some striking concerns about U.S. foreign policy. He also offered a rather profound example of a politician failing a test of self-awareness.
Earlier in the day, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that when it comes to the U.S. policy towards Israel, "We're currently evaluating our approach." The comments were important, but not surprising -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent antics were bound to carry some consequences.
But Cotton, the right-wing freshman in his second month in the Senate, called Psaki's comments "worrisome" -- for a very specific reason.
"While Prime Minister Netanyahu won a decisive victory, he still has just started assembling a governing majority coalition. These kinds of quotes from Israel's most important ally could very well startle some of the smaller parties and their leaders with whom Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently in negotiations. "This raises the question, of course, if the administration intends to undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu's efforts to assemble a coalition by suggesting a change to our longstanding policy of supporting Israel's position with the United Nations."
Hold on a second. Cotton is now concerned about U.S. officials "undermining" foreign officials "currently in negotiations"?
Not to put too fine a point on this, but it was literally just two weeks ago that Cotton took it upon himself to organize a letter to Iran from 47 Senate Republicans. The point of the correspondence, by Cotton's own admission, was to target international diplomacy, undermine American foreign policy, and disrupt officials during their ongoing negotiations.
I'm going to assume the Arkansas Republican remembers this. It caused a bit of a stir.
And yet, there Cotton was yesterday, expressing concern that a State Department official, simply by stating a simple fact about U.S. foreign policy, might "startle" officials abroad. These officials are "currently in negotiations," so the GOP senator apparently believes Americans should be cautious not to interfere.
The irony is simply breathtaking. The mind reels.
Update: In his remarks on the Senate floor, Cotton added, "I fear mutual respect is of little concern to this administration. The president and all those senior officials around him should carefully consider the diplomatic and security consequences of their words."
I mean, really. Is this intended as some kind of performance-art statement on the power of irony?