This week in the New York Times, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) revealed that he consumes grocery store "birthday cake" almost daily. Is this okay or not so much? Two bloggers debate.
• I go running!
• I eat cake!
• Sometimes I buy cake at the store!
• Sometimes I go running so that I can then eat whatever I want!
Is it weird to eat birthday cake every day? Yes. That is weird. But I'm down with it. Look, guys, a cake-a-day habit from a U.S. senator is FINE. This is fine. You do you, Tom Cotton. So what if you eat cake every day? I watch Canadian sporting events! We all have our stuff.
Obviously, this cake situation is a bit of a plot twist. But there are worse things in the world. And at least he eats ice cream with it every time. If you're going to do something, do it right.
Philip Bump: Only junky birthday cake requires ice cream. It's weird, none of this really resonated in a way that was actually visceral until you mentioned ice cream. When I read that, though, I instantly had this vision of standing in some unidentifiable location, holding a too-flimsy plate in my right hand as dry white cake and melty white ice cream blended together and I poked at them with the fork in my left.
I don't care what Tom Cotton eats. I barely care what I eat. And I certainly don't care what anyone on Capitol Hill eats, unless it is poison, which happily it rarely is.
But birthday cake seems a little ... sad? People eat cake all the time, sometimes calling it "cupcakes" or "muffins" or whatever. Sugar and flour and an excuse is all you really need. But "birthday cake" is not just "cake," it is "cake for a special occasion." So when you buy "birthday cake" outside of the context of a birthday, you are either 1) just buying cake, in which case you're sort of a pig, or 2) trying to inject some of what makes a birthday special -- infrequency, attention, reminiscences -- into your average run-of-the-mill Thursday.
I can get doing that if you're in the House of Representatives, the opposite pole from Disney World in terms of "most fun places on Earth." But you're in the Senate now, Tom! You don't need more special occasions.
Also, Sarah, doesn't the picture of Cotton in the Times look like Sheriff Woody from "Toy Story"?
Larimer: Yes. That is not Tom Cotton's best look. His hand is up, like he's ready to object to something. Someone just brought out a pie, maybe?
I did some investigative reporting on this and found this picture of Tom Cotton, which is perhaps a better visual:
Just look at how jazzed he is about that cake. And about getting married, probably. But really, the cake.
Bump! I can't believe you would call this daily birthday cake situation sad. First of all, a cool part about being an adult is that you can just buy yourself an entire cake, whenever you want. Because who is going to stop you. Your mom? No! Not even she can stop you now!
Also, he has a thing that makes him happy and he does it almost every day. Who cares if it's not a "special occasion." Almost every day, Tom Cotton (and his wife, I guess?) celebrate the fact that they have survived another 24 hours on this planet. We should have this approach to life. Congrats on making it through Friday, everyone! Go buy yourselves a cake.
Bump: The Senate is built on decorum, Sarah. Did Henry Clay pause during a captivating speech to stuff a slice of red velvet in his oratory hole? No, I assume not, in part because I assume that red velvet cake is of a more recent vintage, but I honestly couldn't say that for sure and, unlike you, I'm not going to bother to Google it.
Let's take a step back, though, because you said something that reminded me that I am old.
"Who is going to stop you," you asked. And the answer is: Me. There's this great period once you're out of college and have managed to figure out some sort of job that will pay you money, in which, at last, you really feel like you can operate under your own power. It's this totally weird locus of our lives, the thing that we've been striving for for 18, 24, however many years and which, in depressingly short order, we realize is actually completely horrible. Have you not realized this yet? Have you not had the moment when you panic? Oh God, I am now responsible for myself? I am getting bills? What is this? Why was I so stupid as to leave my parents' house. Having to be sneaky about when you drink a beer is a very, very small price to pay for not having to worry about shingles and Con Ed and phone calls from creditors. No wonder so many youngsters live with their parents.
So the point is: I prevent myself from gorging on cake. Me. I understand the scientific evidence that suggests that our ability to resist temptations is finite and that, by not eating cake whenever I may make myself more susceptible to other things. But I am an adult, under my own control for better or for worse. If Tom Cotton can get elected to the Senate, if he can serve in the military for an extended period, I have to think that he can, if needed, keep himself from inhaling store-bought frosting.
Larimer: I just want you to know that in the middle of writing this post, I ate half of a cupcake. Come at me, Bump. Up with cake! Down with whatever your opinion is!
Look, I'll tell you what — next time you're in D.C. (Editor's note: Mr. Bump is located in New York), I'll buy you a grocery store cake that says "I AM AN ADULT." We go eat the whole thing on the steps of the Capitol. This is how Tom Cotton would want this debate to end.