But you better have religion. You better be ready to profess your faith in and fealty to God — the Judeo-Christian one, of course. And you better be convincing. A dust-up last week in the 2014 race for a United States Senate seat from Arkansas provided a sad reminder of this, showing once again that our ballyhooed separation of church and state is less canyon than itty-bitty crack.
The Democratic incumbent, Mark Pryor, released a television commercial. Yes, I know, it’s awfully early for this sort of thing, given that the election is 11 months off. But Pryor’s in trouble. His approval rating recently dipped below 40 percent. His state right now is much redder than it is blue. Republican strategists see his defeat as key to retaking the Senate majority.
And his Republican opponent, an up-and-coming congressman named Tom Cotton, is no slouch. Good-looking. Smart. Delayed a promising legal career to serve in the Army in Afghanistan and Iraq. Makes the hearts of his conservative compatriots quiver and their wallets open like steamed clams. A profile of him in the National Journal last week called him “too good to be true,” noting his “perfect pedigree” and observing that his “timing couldn’t be better.” Arkansas, it said, is “a hellscape for Democrats.”