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May 29, 2013 10:34 AM High Cotton

By Ed Kilgore

James Carville quipped this morning: “God closes one door for Michele Bachmann and opens three to Louie Gohmert.”

I laughed like everyone else when I read that, and I just got through publishing a post of my own that mocks Bachmann, if not what she represents.

But for those who are more concerned with the future of the political movement Bachmann exemplified than with her comedic value, it’s more likely doors are opening for pols who stand for the same “constitutional conservative” ideology without the gaffes, the conspiracy theories, the wilfull ignorance, the wild attacks on enemies, and the sheer Outer Limits vibe conveyed by Bachmann, Gohmert, Alan West, Donald Trump, Tom Tancredo, Paul Broun, and other heroes of the viral email set. To cite one example in the news today, doors are opening for Tom Cotton (per this report from The Hill’s Cameron Joseph):

Republicans are intensifying a campaign to persuade Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to run for the Senate, believing the rookie congressman represents the GOP’s best chance of defeating Sen. Mark Pryor (D).
Cotton has so far steadfastly refused to discuss a Senate run publicly, but many Republicans expect him to take the plunge.
Without any open signals from Cotton, however, they are pushing hard publicly and privately for him to do so….
Cotton, 36, is beloved by both national security conservatives and fiscal-focused Tea Party activists.
Cotton’s popularity stems from his profile — he’s an Army veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and an eloquent Harvard-trained lawyer….
One of his biggest fans is Bill Kristol, the powerful editor of the conservative Weekly Standard.
Kristol compared Cotton’s political talents to former President Clinton’s and floated him as a future presidential prospect as early as last May.

If you pay close attention to what Cotton says rather than how he says it, he’s as “out there” as Bachmann or Gohmert. His political value is precisely that he’s a “constitutional conservative” who doesn’t offer up the unintentional comedy of those we fondly call The Crazy, or the open menace of a Ted Cruz, or the rich history of extremist connections of a Rand Paul. So particularly if Cotton joins Cruz and Paul (and perhaps Paul Broun) in the Senate in 2015, his celebrity may soon match all the early excitement on the Right about his potential.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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