by Max Brantley
Anything to say after another glorious fall day? Not much here. This was quotable:
* APPROVAL RATINGS: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a different take from the average politician, not to mention the dominant political strategy in this year's Arkansas election, where pandering to base motives and popular prejudice is the order of the day.
On his reaction to the widespread opposition, in public polls, to his soda restrictions:
To some extent, it is [that] everybody is resistant to change. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody that was opposed to the smoking ban … All of western Europe followed New York City. Many of the states around here did. Every major city, including in the tobacco-growing states in the United States, did. Brazil is smoke-free. Mexico City is smoke-free. All of France, Italy, Spain, England—they’re all smoke-free.
It takes a while. Leadership is about doing what you think is right and then building a constituency behind it. It is not doing a poll and following from the back. If you want to criticize the political process—and it’s probably true throughout history, and certainly not just in the United States—I think it’s fair to say, in business or in government, an awful lot of leaders follow the polls.
And that’s not the way to win. I happen to think it’s not ethical, or right, and not your obligation. But I don’t even think it’s good business or politics, because people aren’t good at describing what is in their own interest … What leaders should do is make decisions as to what they think is in the public interest based on the best advice that they can get, and then try and build a constituency and bring it along.
On why high approval ratings mean you’re failing:
If I finish my term in office … and have high approval ratings, then I wasted my last years in office. That high approval rating means you don’t upset anybody. High approval rating means you’re skiing down the slope and you never fall. Well, you’re skiing the baby slope, for goodness’ sakes. Go to a steeper slope. You always want to press, and you want to tackle the issues that are unpopular, that nobody else will go after.
You decide which issues or leaders are brought to mind by these observations.
* A JOHN GRISHAM NOVEL IDEA? From an interview with John Grisham in today's New York Times book review:
What was the last truly great book you read?
The word “great” gets tossed around too easily. The last book that kept me completely engrossed while delivering a powerful story was “Life After Death,” by Damien Echols. He spent 18 years on death row in Arkansas for crimes he didn’t commit, and was released last year. Though he’s innocent, the state refuses to exonerate him.
* HOMICIDE UPDATE: LRPD says Victor Rosas, 26, was killed in an apparent robbery last night. He was standing outside 11 Terrace Place (off Mann Road in Southwest Little Rock) about 8:40 p.m. when a man with a semi-automatic handgun demanded his wallet. Rosas turned it over, then was shot in the chest in front of witnesses. One witness identified a man nearby as a potential suspect, but it was determined he was not involved.
* WHO'S PRO-LIFE?: Since some anti-abortion extremists are going all in on that angle for election to the Arkansas legislature this year — people like Jason Rapert, who favor forced vaginal probes of woman for early pregnancy ultrasounds and who think a morning-after-rape pill is murder and that an agency that distributes birth control pills should be put out of business — it's a good time to share Thomas Friedman's column today on his outrage at the expropriation of the phrase pro-life by people whose concern for life begins at conception and ends at birth.
These were not slips of the tongue. These are the authentic voices of an ever-more-assertive far-right Republican base that is intent on using uncompromising positions on abortion to not only unseat more centrist Republicans — Mourdock defeated the moderate Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana in the primary — but to overturn the mainstream consensus in America on this issue. That consensus says that those who choose to oppose abortion in their own lives for reasons of faith or philosophy should be respected, but those women who want to make a different personal choice over what happens with their own bodies should be respected, and have the legal protection to do so, as well.
But judging from the unscientific — borderline crazy — statements opposing abortion that we’re hearing lately, there is reason to believe that this delicate balance could be threatened if Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan, and their even more extreme allies, get elected. So to those who want to protect a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, let me offer just one piece of advice: to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”
...I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.