Tom Cotton Is Lying Liar Who Lied About Being An Army Ranger
Anyone can go to clown school. I could go to clown school. You could go to clown school. But if you never actually work as a clown or register myself as a clown by painting your clown face on an official clown egg at the clown registry*, can you truly call yourself a clown?
Well, if you are Tom Cotton, you certainly can.
Sen. Tom Cotton sure has made a whole lot of his military career. It's pretty much his whole schtick. He went to Harvard Law School, joined a fancy New York firm and then left that fancy New York firm to join the Army, because of how much he believed in George W. Bush and his stupid, stupid war. One of the things he's talked a lot about — particularly during his senate run, was how very proud he was of being an Army Ranger.
But whoops! Turns out he was not, in fact, an Army Ranger. Not really, anyway.
Salon reports that Cotton "was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the elite unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command," but merely attended Ranger school, a two month course that is open to anyone serving in the military. This, technically, gives him the "right" to call himself a Ranger, and to wear a Ranger tab on their uniforms, but actual Rangers really don't like it when people do that.
And Tom Cotton did it over and over and over again.
Yet Cotton told the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record in February 2012: "My experience as a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan and my experience in business will put me in very good condition." The year before, he told Roby Brock of Talk Politics in a video interview that he "became an infantry officer and an Army Ranger." A Cotton campaign ad placed in the Madison County Record in May 2012 identifies Cotton as a "Battle-Tested Leader" who "Volunteered to be an Army Ranger."
Sen. Cotton lied about his experience in the Special Forces in order to give him an edge in his Senate race, but it's not just bloating your resume when you're talking about military service. It's stolen valor. Tom Cotton may have wanted to be an airborne ranger, living the life of guts and danger, but that was not to be his fate.
Rather than express some amount of contrition upon getting caught, Cotton's office doubled down and accused Salon reporter Roger Sollenberger of not being an Army Ranger either.
Cotton spokesperson Caroline Tabler told Salon in an email, "Senator Cotton graduated from Ranger school and is more of a Ranger than a Salon reporter like you will ever be."
I really don't think it works that way.
*This is in fact a real thing, I looked it up recently while watching a documentary about John Wayne Gacy in which they said he was a registered clown and I was like "WTF is a registered clown?" And now I know. It's someone who has painted a clown face on an egg or is Tom Cotton. I did, however, totally lie about all of us being able to go to clown school, because apparently clown school is more selective than Harvard.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse