It's not often that aides to elected officials get to deliver the good lines, but such was the case at Sen. Mark Pryor's office the other day. Reporters asked if the senator would support legislation prohibiting job discrimination against gays. A Pryor spokesman, Michael Teague, responded for his boss:
"The senator thinks that no one should be fired or harassed in the workplace based on their sexual orientation."
Hear, hear. The Pryor-Teague doctrine should end discussion of the bill, which is now backed by all Senate Democrats. (Pryor was one of the last. He's never reckless.) The bill would prohibit employers from making hiring decisions based on sexual orientation. It exempts certain schools, associations and other groups that are already exempt from the anti-discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It applies to entities only with more than 15 employees. The bill should be approved by acclamation, without an audible discouraging word.
It won't be, though. Too fair. Already, Arkansas's other senator, the Republican John Boozman, has tried in his inarticulate way. to cloud the issue. Announcing he'll vote against the bill, Boozman said, "I have concerns that you are having special provisions for a certain class of people." A certain class? Does that mean Americans?
Nobody does gibberish better than Boozman. Rep. Tom Cotton, who is running against Pryor, deals in tougher talk. He'll be clearer and meaner. Cotton and his Tea Party allies seem to believe that hate is the secret to winning elections. Pryor won't have seen the like of it.