Most politicians try to keep the writing bug at bay, perhaps remembering Job’s cry in the Bible: “Oh...that mine adversary had written a book.” A writer gives hostages to fortune on every page, and opposition researchers will comb over the books of rival politicians for years to come.
For Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, however, writing has been key to his political rise. As an Army officer serving in Iraq, he wrote a letter to the New York Times expressing hope that the Justice Department would prosecute the journalists responsible for revealing information that endangered the lives of soldiers. The Times declined to publish it, and the resulting controversy helped launch his career. Subsequent Cotton encounters with the Times have been equally consequential, wreaking havoc at the paper and boosting his standing on the right.
Now Mr. Cotton has written a book on foreign policy that one suspects the Times won’t find space to review. (Although the senator mentions my work in the text, I did not see any of the book before publication—or even know that he had a book under way.)