by Max Brantley
He was a friend, press colleague, sometime adversary during his days as press officer for Gov. Bill Clinton and also had been an editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Times, a sideline he picked up among others in Washington where he had been a public affairs officer for the U.S. Geological Survey. He moved there after several other federal jobs. He was among the Arkansans who followed Bill Clinton to Washington in 1993.
A University of Arkansas graduate, Mike was an Army veteran and spent 10 years in journalism — in Russellville and Springdale — before becoming an assistant director of information and journalism instructor at the University of Arkansas. Then he joined Gov. Bill Clinton's staff as press secretary. Among his many free-lance sidelines was a small business making collectible figures of black cavalry soldiers. He was a friendly, calm and fascinating guy. I'll forever remember him close by Bill Clinton at the Capitol, tape recorder in hand to capture every conversation. Sometimes reporters missed Clinton's ever-nuanced remarks and the tape always told the tale.
A funeral is planned in Foreman, his hometown, as well as a memorial service in Washington. Survivors include his wife, four children, two grandchildren, three brothers and his parents.
He did a lot of good work for the Arkansas Times, most still available on the archives of our editorial cartoons. His last is at top. It appeared in November. My favorite of all time was a wonderful piece he did for the Morning News on Tommy Robinson, the blustery sheriff of Pulaski County and later congressman. You probably had to know the TR era to fully appreciate it, but it's a winner. It was a takeoff on a movie ad, "Talking Tall," after the Buford Pusser epic. Somehow, I've misplaced my image of it. I'm searching.
Below is typical of his good work.