by Max Brantley
Brummett spoke to a rural interest conference and came away concluding that you best not make assumptions about beliefs on hot button issues -- sexual orientation, hunting, etc.
Well, sure. Opinion polling has shown that in Arkansas for years -- on everything from death penalty to abortion to gay rights to guns. We are nowhere near so conservative as imagined.
Multiple advance polls even indicated the anti-gay-adoption measure would be defeated. They were wrong, though the margin was much closer than the marriage amendment and there's plenty of lingering evidence about confusion on the question.
Still, there's enough populism and individualism in every section of Arkansas that you have to wonder why Republican chair Doyle Webb keeps beating that evil liberal drum, as he did in the D-G article today about races shaping up in 2010.
The future of the Republican Party is in the scrubbed-up, brainy and committed young conservatives who've begun populating some legislative seats, in place of Jim Holt-style religious movement zombies. They talk far more tax policy and spending policy than queer fear.
The new-style politicians tend to be every bit as bad on most of the hot-button social issues -- Sen. Gilbert Baker, lauded by Brummett for his remarks, is a good example. But they aren't waving these issues around like holy flags. See Mike Huckabee, too (at least when he's before mainstream audiences). And they'd never, for example, speak ill of Rep. Kathy Webb, the lesbian legislator on account of her sexual orientation, though you can be sure few of them are ready to vote her full legal citizenship just yet. For which they should continue to be called out.
The danger for moderates and liberals, of course, is to be tricked by this cosmetically appealing group into electing them.