by Max Brantley
Sen. Joyce Elliott gave a ringing speech on the not only uncompleted, but now regressing struggle for equal rights for women. She urged the crowd to remember the current battle wasn't about abortion, but about control. Quoting Dr. Joycelyn Elders, she said women who can't control their own bodies can't control their lives.
Elliott and Reps. Fred Love and Warwick Sabin were the only legislators I saw on hand. Linda Tyler, who lost a Senate race last year to Jason Rapert, the leader of the war on women, joined the crowd. It was diverse and full of young people, the hope for Arkansas and the U.S. politically.
Rita Sklar, who leads the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, said the organization will sue over the most restrictive abortion legislation, which would prohibit most abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy. Other legal groups are considering a challenge to the 20-week ban as well. Other fights could include Rapert's effort to end support of Planned Parenthood family planning and medical services. These services, which don't include abortion, were referenced often in handmade signs waved at the event.
Elliott urged the crowd to stay tuned for another effort to pass a resolution for Arkansas to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. I look forward to the list of reasons from the Raperts of the world about why it's unnecessary because .......
On other topics:
* PRESIDENT HUCKABEE: Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus suggested the other day that the genial Mike Huckabee would be a good ambassador for the party as it attempts to convince voters that it is not the mean, exclusionary group voters think it is, with hatred for gay people, women's rights and all the rest. I laughed when I saw the initial report because, genial though the Huckster can be, he throws some of his sharpest arrows on social issues, slavishly advancing the most extreme views of the evangelical base, often in decidedly unfriendly ways. Raw Story gives a fuller account of this side of Huckabee than some earlier reports on the subject. An ambassador to gay people and abortion rights activists? No way.
* MARK PRYOR WON'T STAND ALONE: U.S. Sen. Pryor, already under sustained attack from moneyed Republican interests, won't go it alone. I received today copy of an appeal from Florida Sen. Bill Nelson to his base on Pryor's behalf. He writes:
The extremists did it to me in last year's election. So naturally I take offense when they start using the same dirty tactics against my friend and U.S. Senate colleague Mark Pryor, in Arkansas.
Mark has had a laser-like focus on creating jobs and growing our economy. And just as importantly, he has always stood strong for Medicare and Social Security.
But the outside big-money groups hate that. They want someone working for THEM. That's why they're now using false TV attack ads and coming after one of the most threatened senators on our side: Mark Pryor.
...Club for Growth has already began advertising in Arkansas, attacking Mark Pryor for votes siding with his state's middle class.
And Karl Rove's Crossroads organization has already indicated that this race will be one of its top priorities.
Look, going head-to-head with a tough opponent is difficult enough. But when Club for Growth, Karl Rove and other right-wing mega-donors flood the airwaves with tens of millions of dollars in misleading attack ads, that challenge multiplies exponentially.
But Mark can beat them. How do I know? Because I faced millions of dollars in attacks, too — and with support from Americans like you, together we prevailed.