It was a reminder, again, of the wilderness of the Huckabee years. We now have a governor who seems to care more about governing than himself. Who can work with the legislature. Who prefers cautious policy-making to quips.
Do not get me wrong. There's much Beebe says with which to disagree. To name two: He's wrong on coal -- too beholden to the power companies with which he's long been friendly. Another, if smaller point of concern: He seems too ready to give up the ability of animal protection agencies to make misdemeanor arrests for animal cruelty. I fear this will all but eliminate misdemeanor prosecution in many jurisdictions. (UPDATE: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel informs me that arrest powers are not an issue for anyone. Humane officials haven't made arrests in past. They HAVE intervened on behalf of abused animals and he says he intends for his legislation to retain their ability to intervene without liability concerns, but duly sworn officers will make arrests.)
But thought, rather than pure instinct, seems to guide his decisions. He also adopts his positions without sneering at those on the other side.
For example: To the obvious question of whether, despite hard times, circumstances might somehow necessitate looking at a tax increase, Beebe naturally demurs. But he does so without talking about a Tax Me More Fund, to remember one remnant of the long years of me-first governing.
I still think he's wrong on dividing lottery money among existing categorical scholarships. But he's right that Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's rush to use a current surplus to start a new progtram in 2009 is ill-advised, based on empirical history.
Beebe also ought to call a moratorium on the death penalty and probably won't. But at least he's ready to acknowledge the dangers of killing innocents and expresses a willingness to delay death to insure no new science could spare someone wrongly convicted.
Even where I disagreed, sometimes strongly, it was a reassuring measure of the state's chief executive.