Skip to comments.Tom Cotton at Harvard: Hated Libertarians, Praised Bill Clinton
Posted on 08/03/2013 9:35:31 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, who announced this week that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, attacked alcohol vendors, called for mandatory financial disclosures of campaign donations, favored banning cigarettes, and attacked libertarianism while he was a Harvard student.
In a twice-weekly column for the Harvard Crimson, Cotton who has been called a Republicans dream by National Review and an extraordinary figure by the Weekly Standard criticized politicians for not doing enough to oppose tobacco and wrote a laudatory 1996 piece praising Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In 1997, Cotton wrote a scolding op-ed on alcohol and underage drinking in which he called for more laws restricting the sale of alcohol, specifically zoning laws lest vendors pray on the most vulnerable elements of society, the poor and the young.
[T]he problem is not with existing laws or their enforcement, but with the lack of laws, Cotton wrote. Very few cities have zoning laws that specifically affect liquor stores. Most zoning laws simply define an area as commercial, thereby allowing any type of commercial store to open in the area.
As long as zoning wasnt done, Cotton argued, vendors will turn their profits by selling their wares to those who are least likely to understand the consequences of drinking and therefore to moderate their drinking.
Cotton rejected appeals to lower the drinking age. If we changed the age limit, we would not get a libertarian paradise, he wrote. We would only get countless teenage alcoholics, even more than we have now.
Cotton was even more reproachful in an article calling for a ban on smoking at Harvards campus. The Freshman Deans Office knows it, the staff knows it and you know it: smoking is addictive, harmful and annoying, he wrote. Quit equivocating on our smoking policy and take the hard line. Harvard should not allow smoking anywhere on its property.
[Harvard's staff is] simply afraid to take the next step and say smoking is wrong because it enslaves and destroys the body, Cotton wrote. Harvard should forbid smoking by all individuals on Harvard property, for their own sake and for the sake of those around them. If students or employees want to smoke, they can go to public property. If this is too inconvenient, maybe they will break a destructive habit. (Related: Tom Cotton demanded Harvard ban cigarettes in 1997)
Cotton also turned his sights on libertarianism, which he dismissed as frivolous.
There are many reasons to be a libertarian. One is vanity. It is nice to think that you are responsible for all the good fortune and success you achieve, he wrote. Another is naivete, for you are surely naive if you believe the immediately preceding proposition. Still another reason is selfishness: since you are fortunate and successful, you are likely to want to hoard that fortune and success. Each of these reason, and others, point to the central fact of libertarianism, which is that practically all of its adherents belong to a self-regarding and sanctimonious elite.
Cotton continued: Libertarianism, by its very definition, is not a political philosophy, for political philosophy entails questions about the nature and role of the public realm. Libertarianism denies legitimacy to the public realm. Thus, it cannot develop a coherent and thematic system dealing with the appropriate and tolerable mixture of law, liberty and personal responsibility.
While Cotton disliked libertarianism, he had kind words for fellow Arkie Bill Clinton:
Bill Clinton is the most successful campaigner of our time because he is the most sincere campaigner of our time, Cotton wrote. He was especially taken with Hillary. There could not be a more apposite instance for the phrase Behind every good man lies a better woman. Hillary is more organized, more disciplined, more thoughtful, and more faithful than he is.
Cotton soured on Clintons degeneracy two years later, calling the president a compulsive womanizer and a liar. But he viewed the Monica Lewinsky affair less as a scandal limited to Clinton himself than as an object lesson for the American electorate. This lesson speaks to the fundamental presumption of democratic self-government, that the people have wisdom and virtue enough to elect politicians wise and virtuous enough to rule, he wrote.
He appears not to have changed his positive view of Hillary Clinton.
Cotton called for deregulating campaign finance laws but he also called for forcing donors to disclose their financial contributions, something favored by the campaign finance enthusiasts.
We should either sharply increase contribution limits or eliminate them altogether and couple this move with more extensive disclosure requirements, Cotton wrote. When politicians do not feel pressured to maneuver around the law to raise money, they will not turn to their party or like-minded groups for stealth support.
Didn’t Breitbart write an article kind of debunking this.
Huckabee on steroids.
Charles Johnson. heh
Why is it a big deal that he didn’t like libertarians? A lot of conservatives don’t.
Well, he’s better than Pryor. He’ll have my support.
It’s called sowing FUD-—fear, uncertainty and doubt. Expect to be up to your neck, and maybe your nose, in the FUD they will be spreading about a variety of conservative candidates. If they can get conservatives taking shots against one another, those shots won’t be going in the direction of the GOPe RINO candidates such as Lindsey Graham and the Democrats such as Pryor.
Not encouraging, but.... I was a liberal Democrat in my college days, as well.
“Still another reason (to be libertarian) is selfishness: since you are fortunate and successful, you are likely to want to hoard that fortune and success.”
Wow, how is that different from a liberal? It sounds like he would like to “spread things around a little”. It was a long time ago, but it’s not good. Maybe he was trying to ingratiate himself with the other folks there. Still better than Pryor.
thanks for this post.
i fancy i can get a peek into a young man’s character from this early writing. i see a young/sharp/honest mind forming. good prose. clean. well organized/reasoned. bodes well for us. i hope he hasn’t changed much. just a bit less idealism and a bit more wise
funny, by contrast, i haven’t seen anything of obama’s student writing at the same place. and this is after 5 years as president. funny indeed.
Harvard should not allow smoking anywhere on its property. (emphasis supplied)
If one wants to argue that Harvard assumes the role of a quasi public institution because of its federal and state subsidies and privileged tax benefits, that is certainly a respectable intellectual position. But hardly one which disqualifies a Republican running against a Democrat. One can certainly take the position that the rights of private property, even Harvard's, trump a visitor's right to smoke. Many on these threads have argued that the business owner or property owner should have superior rights to regulate smoking as it chooses over the power of the state to ban smoking.
As to his endorsement of the Clintons, he has evidently recanted this nonsense written when he was young. Note: Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama both wrote a lot of nonsense when they were young and I do not excuse them because of their age. So, cotton should be held some account but he should also be credited for recanting and, to my knowledge, neither Hillary nor Michelle have gotten any smarter.
I have no problem with the state limiting the sale of alcohol to minors.
Paleo conservatives ought to be encouraged, not discouraged, by cottons statements as quoted because it is clear that he will not confine his conservatism to a Wall Street Journal myopia which limits conservatism to opposing spending and taxes. These remarks suggest that Cotton, if elected, would be active on social issues, a tendency which should please paleos.
So he thought Clinton was a great campaigner. Uh...DUH. The rest of it seems to be a religious-borne puritanism which he may well have outgrown. In any case, a shitload better than Mark Pryor or even the phony Huckabee.
And I voted for Al Gore. Oops. Kids in college are still learning who they are. Their brains aren’t developed, and frankly, they haven’t lived. They go off to study abroad, and suddenly their whole word view changes for some reason.
I did all of that.
And then I grew, I found out who I was, and I became principled.
Show me what the guy has done over the past 10-years. I couldn’t care less what college looked like.
Oh, hell, he hates smoke. BFD. This man is war-hardened and rational. He probably still hates smoke.
Reagan Democrat here.
The guy sounds like your typical Democrat communist. He may as well have said, "You didn't build that!"
The operational question is, is he the best candidate on the radar to knock a Donk out of the Senate?
If the answer is yes, then send him a check. If no, then yuck up the Daily Caller.
“The rest of it seems to be a religious-borne puritanism which he may well have outgrown.”
Yes, it certainly does have puritanical overtones. I’d like to know more about what his views are now, because the one thing we don’t need any more of are nannies.
He may well be a Reppublicans’ Dream but he is a conservative’s nightmare.
Fat chance...ever notice how many college professors smoke!!!!!
Hey, a lot of us were idiot liberals when we were in college.
And then we went to work, got married, and we saw the light.
Most of the Euro countries allow drinking at 16, don’t allow driving until 18. It seems to work out OK for them. There seems to be less binge drinking.
An 18 drinking age worked fine here until the MADD women used the bludgeon of Federal highway money to force states to raise it to 21. Ludicrous that we’ll send our young adults off to war and not let them have a beer.
In all fairness college days are crazy days. Most people snap out of it and wise up later. My guess is that in 16 years Tom Cotton as evolved. :-)
And then I grew, I found out who I was, and I became principled.
Excellent autobiographical reflection. May your tribe increase!
Reagan Democrat here.
Good on you!
I remember when NJ raised the drinking age to 21, while right across the state line in NY it was still 18. Every Fri and Sat night it seemed the parking lots at every liquor store and bar in Rockland County were jam packed with cars from NJ. So, yeah, if you’re old enough to serve, nothing wrong with knocking back a shot or some cold ones in moderation.