Over the course of just a few days last week, Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) went from relatively anonymous freshman senator to what seemed like the tip of every tongue in Washington — thanks to the letter he wrote and got 46 fellow Republicans to join, warning the ruling Iranian regime to be wary of negotiating a nuclear deal with President Obama.
But here’s a fun fact: Cotton made his big splash before even giving his first speech on the Senate floor.
That occasion came late Monday, when Cotton delivered his “maiden speech,” which is typically given after a period of silence and as a statement of principles or objectives rather than a comment on the partisan issue of the day.
Cotton’s address has gotten a lot less attention than his Iran letter, and that is not surprising: Where the letter was terse and seemingly calculated to influence the multiparty nuclear negotiations now underway, the half-hour speech was dense, rich in historical references, and calibrated to further establish Cotton as the Republican Party’s young leading light on foreign affairs and defense — positioning him to assume the mantle now worn by elders like John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
“An alarm should be sounding in our ears,” Cotton said. “Our enemies, sensing weakness and hence opportunity, have become steadily more aggressive. Our allies, uncertain of our commitment and capability, have begun to conclude that they must look out for themselves, even where it is unhelpful to stability and order. Our military, suffering from years of neglect, has seen its relative strength decline to historic levels.” (Read more from “Tom Cotton Calls for ‘Global Military Dominance’ in Maiden Senate Speech [+video]” HERE)