And the press just continues catapulting right-wing propaganda about supposed future superstars. Consider this story from NPR's Ailsa Chang, which appeared on All Things Considered yesterday -- an unqualified puff piece, even though its subject is the man behind what is now recognized as an utter debacle for Republicans:
AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: All week, even against a crescendo of backlash about the letter, there were still plenty of Senate Republicans falling all over themselves to gush about the youngest member of their chamber.Yes, it's all like this. We hear from one of Cotton's professors at Harvard, Harvey Mansfield. ("He didn't want to be a philosopher for the sake of philosophy. He wanted to see what he can learn in order to guide his life and do some structure to his thinking.") We hear about his votes against the farm bill. ("Even though the bill was popular among farmers in his state, the vote was a protest against big government.") We get his showboating proclamation that prisoners in Guantanamo should "rot in hell," followed by Senator Mark Kirk kvelling ("When he destroyed the administration the other day on GTMO, that was perfect").
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Oh, Tom Cotton is a smart, talented senator....
CHANG: For Iowa's Chuck Grassley, it's Cotton's resolve he admires.
SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY: He's a person you never have to put down, quote, unquote, as "undecided."
CHANG: And Mark Kirk of Illinois marvels at Cotton's intensity.
SENATOR MARK KIRK: He's a hardcharging guy, ex-military, very influential within the Republican conference.
CHANG: The guy they're fawning over has been a senator little more than nine weeks. He was barely into his first term in the House before he started ramping up to run for the upper chamber. And now at 37, Cotton has emerged as the standout of his freshman Senate class. Tall and lanky with an impassive face, Cotton can come off as aloof, distant. Colleagues call him fiercely focused, a politician who relentlessly stays on message...
Thee's no skepticism in the story. Criticism of Cotton's letter to Iran's leaders -- which has come even from conservative pundits, Republican political pros, an Army general, and at least one of its own signers -- is never mentioned beyond he fleeting reference to "a crescendo of backlash," which, we're told, isn't preventing "plenty of Senate Republicans" from "falling all over themselves to gush" about Cotton.
Oh, and the story ends this way:
CHANG: And now there's already presidential chatter. A bill was introduced in Arkansas this week that would let Cotton seek reelection for Senate and run for president at the same time.Shorter NPR: He's dreamy!
The right defines every media outlet that's not overtly conservative as part of the "liberal media." But the "liberal media" is always willing to give coverage like this to hyped Republicans, at least until they've gone so far off the rails that their extremism is impossible to ignore. Even Ted Cruz got coverage like this at the beginning of his Senate term:
Before the Texas Republican was even elected to the seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Cruz was viewed as a fast-rising star in the GOP. He’s a Cuban-American, Princeton educated and a former solicitor general of Texas who has the tea party firmly in his corner....Not only doesn't the right-wing press reciprocate, the mainstream press rarely does this for Democrats. Oh sure, for a few: Barack Obama a decade ago, and more recently Elizabeth Warren and (for whatever it was worth) Wendy Davis. But that doesn't offset the positive, isn't-he-fascinating? coverage of Ryan, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Kasich, pre-Bridgegate Christie....
Now, Cruz is in Washington ready to be the anti-establishment guy who’ll help fix the establishment....
It was at the APP gala that Cruz gave what could be described as a presidential speech, laying out his views on the future of conservatism. Even though it was weeks until he would be sworn in, the speech immediately fueled talk of a 2016 presidential run....
This is why Jonathan Bernstein was wrong a few days ago when he insisted that Democrats have just as deep a bench as Republicans:
There's Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, who is actually running [for president]. And Elizabeth Warren. And Andrew Cuomo, Al Franken, Tim Kaine, Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner. Oh, and Michael Bennet, Mike Beebe, Christine Gregoire, Maggie Hassan, Jeanne Shaheen, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, John Hickenlooper and Deval Patrick.Seriously? When have you ever seen a story about any of these people, Warren excepted, that's as breathless with anticipation of potential future greatness as the Cotton story quoted above?
Democrats don't shout from the housetops that their successful politicians are presidential material and forces to be reckoned with. Therefore the mainstream press doesn't take rising Democratic pols seriously -- or perhaps it's that the press would rather run puff pieces about Republicans to avoid charges of liberal bias. (Not that it helps.)
And so the Republican bench jut gets bigger, and the Democratic bench shrinks to nothing.
(Hat tip: Living Democracy.)