OMG! Cotton is Kristol’s Protege

by Jim Lobe

Yesterday’s speculation that Bill Kristol may have played matchmaker between Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and those billionaire donors like Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson may not have been so idle.

A friend with a good database has sent us the following two items:

While in Iraq, Cotton also struck up a correspondence with Kristol—a fellow former student of Mansfield at Harvard—and when he was subsequently stationed at Arlington National Cemetery, in a prestigious unit called the Old Guard that oversees the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the two men met frequently over drinks and dinner at Washington’s downtown Mayflower Hotel. Kristol saw a kindred spirit in Cotton’s aggressive national-security hawkishness, and the men developed what Kristol describes as ‘a bond beyond pure policy.’” [The Atlantic, The Making of a Conservative Superstar, September 17, 2014)


Cotton has been close with the Standard’s editor, Bill Kristol, since striking up a friendship over email while deployed in uniform, and introduced himself to the Washington community while stationed across the river in Fort Myer.” [PoliticoThe Last Best Hope for GOP Hawks?, April 30, 2013]

So this relationship, which must have opened up promising vistas for Cotton, goes back nearly a decade at least. And to think they were both mentored by Harvey Mansfield, one of this country’s most influential followers of Leo Strauss and author of the almost cartoonishly patriarchal 2006 polemic, Manliness (which provoked one hilarious New York Times reviewer to ask, among other questions, “when was the last time he [Mansfield] left the faculty club?”)

I mean, really, this vision of the older Kristol counseling the young soldier on his career path over drinks at the Mayflower Hotel—with its 1920s-era murals of the woodlands, the sea, and the ruins of Greek temples—sounds like a Straussian wet dream. Kristol, of course, is Strauss’s “philosopher” who cultivates and advises the “gentleman” about the ways of the world, knowing that, although he the philosopher lacks the charisma and the common touch to appeal to the masses, his eager (and manly) gentleman-protege may well become “prince” and thus the instrument for implementing his political agenda. No wonder the Weekly Standard’s man-crush on Cotton and Kristol current promotion of Cotton as the 2016 Republican vice-presidential candidate!

Of course, the backing of billionaires—like Adelson and Singer—doesn’t hurt in promoting the philosopher and the gentleman and their common priorities such as, notably, supporting Bibi and the Israeli Right and attacking Iran.

Photo: Bill Kristol, Tom Cotton and two other Kristol proteges (Michael Goldfarb and Noah Pollak). Credit: Bill Kristol’s Twitter Feed.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Does Tom Cotton think the Palestinians should get out of occupied Palestine? This of course is the view of Sheldon Adelson

  2. Tom Cotton is popping up so many times he’s starting to drive me bananas.

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