Focus group | Arkansas Blog

Focus group

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I made my annual talk at Arkansas Boys State this afternoon. It's an old tradition. I think the idea is to give several hundred high school seniors the chance to see a rare species, a liberal, up close.

It was a very interesting outing this year. I didn't get a single question about abortion. I always list it among the litany of the Times' liberal editorial viewpoints. Normally, about half the Q&A is devoted to the topic. I'm a murderer, etc.

This year, a single issue dominated -- the war. And here's the interesting thing: I'd say the auditorium split about down the middle. This is highly significant in a group that, year in and year out, has been reliably and overwhelmingly conservative. Warm applause came, too, for criticism of George W. Bush.

I also was interested at the amount of support for a national health care system.

The event underscored my thoughts when I heard that Mike Huckabee had complained in a talk with reporters today that too many questions in the debate last night dealt with the war in Iraq. He wanted to talk about candidates' differences on gun rights, education and "the sanctity of life." If Boys State is any judge, here's an occasion where Huckabee's political judgment has failed him. He better start boning up on the war. (And, hey. do you think war might be a "sanctity of life" issue?)

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