AT THE Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California last week, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas engaged in some political bait-and-switch.
A potential 2024 presidential candidate, Cotton delivered a speech as part of the library's "A Time for Choosing" series, in which high-profile Republicans were asked to address "the future of the conservative movement and the Republican Party." He let it be known that he intended to argue that Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump were cut from the same cloth — an ambitious theme that generated a fair amount of advance buzz.
He couldn't pull it off.
Cotton told his audience that those who believe the GOP must choose between following Reagan's legacy or Trump's are wrong. "For all their differences in temperament and style," he said, "there's a deeper continuity in the beliefs of our 40th and 45th presidents."
But you can't square a circle, and Cotton didn't really try. He declined to "sketch out the similarities with great details about policies and programs." Instead, he said, he would prove his point with reference to a painting: Both Reagan and Trump "adorned the walls of their Oval Office" with a portrait of Andrew Jackson.
From that unconvincing beginning, Cotton went on to make an unconvincing case. . . .