At Mondoweiss this morning, we get some idea of exactly who's been grooming "Tehran Tom" Cotton -- and why:
The neoconservatives reached out and groomed Tom Cotton when they saw him coming down the pike. The Harvard College and Harvard Law grad spent just one term in the Congress before challenging and defeating Mark Pryor last fall. And he got tons of money then from the Israel lobby.
Neoconservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin embraced Cotton back in 2012. She was worried then that with Joe Lieberman leaving the Senate, we were losing national security hawks.
Hawks are nervous that, with the retirement of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and the demands of a fiscal crisis, fewer lawmakers will be interested in and devoted to national security.
[...] Grooming a young politician is how Bill Kristol and the Israel lobby work. I saw Kristol at AIPAC many years ago talking about how important it is to cultivate rising politicians. He mentioned Dan Quayle, whom Kristol ultimately served as chief of staff when he was vice president.
Bill Kristol said that Hart Hasten, a Holocaust survivor and successful Indianapolis businessman, had been crucial to shaping Dan Quayle’s view of Israel, having “spent a lot of time” with Quayle when he was still a congressman. (Quayle’s office later told me, “The statement Bill Kristol made was not exactly accurate. Mr. Quayle said his broad knowledge of Israel came from many people and sources, not specifically from Mr. Hasten.”) Dan Senor, an analyst on CNN and former AIPAC intern, boasted that AIPAC won over Spencer Abraham when he was the head of the state Republican Party, years before he became a Michigan senator. The party was $500,000 in debt, and an AIPAC leader helped him pay that off.
As we noted yesterday, Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel bankrolled the Cotton campaign with $1 million as he went down to the wire against Mark Pryor last fall.↓ Story continues below ↓
Elliott Abrams and Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam also gave Cotton money. So did rightwing Israel supporter Kenneth Bialkin. So did James Berenson, a board member of the neoconservative Hudson Institute.
Jennifer Rubin praised Cotton’s fire-and-brimstone speech about Iran in January. She was defensive about the Israel lobby allegation:
You see, this is not about simply being a friend to Israel — although a Cotton-type policy would certainly fit that description. This is about whether a leader is ready to defend the West against the jihadist threat — whether it comes from Sunni or Shiite Islamists.
Paul Blumenthal has a good piece up at Huffpo showing how a large portion of the money funding Republican Party nominees is from the same sources who are trying to defeat Obama’s negotiations with Iran– the Israel lobby in short, though Blumenthal does not use that description.
Cotton has received a great deal of support from the donors who fund these and other groups opposing an Iran deal. [Paul] Singer and [Seth] Klarman have given a combined $350,000 to the pro-Cotton super PAC Arkansas Horizon. Singer also gave $2.6 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to B-PAC and $10,000 to John Bolton Super PAC, all of which spent money to support Cotton’s Senate campaign last year. Klarman has directed $400,000 to American Crossroads. The Emergency Committee for Israel — a nonprofit group, led by the neoconservative Bill Kristol, that opposes an Iran deal — spent nearly $1 million to support Cotton in his election campaign.
These donations are just a fraction of the total spent by these funders. Overall, the combined giving of [Sheldon] Adelson, Klarman, Marcus and Singer accounted for over 10 percent of all pro-Republican independent spending in the past two election cycles.
In some cases, contributions from these donors have been the dominant source of funds for party-linked groups.
I do wish these Israel boosters could make the distinction between what's good for the Likud Party -- and that's good for America. But I'm not hopeful.