Let’s make an early assessment of the Arkansas political season by presenting a few interim awards:
Most Defining Pronouncement So Far: “I was born in a tar paper shack.”
Greatest Source of Voter Uncertainty in the Governor’s Race: Which of the candidates was born in a tar paper shack and which wears a flak jacket? Or is that the same guy? Or was one born in a flak jacket while the other went on a drug raid to a tar paper shack?
Best Fiction: (Tie) Mike Beebe’s wearing a work shirt and looking rugged, since he’s really a white-shirted lawyer and low-handicap golfer properly attired, and Asa Hutchinson’s pretending he’s the real advocate of removing the sales tax from food. Of the two candidates, Hutchinson was the one saying as late as January that repeal of the grocery tax wasn’t part of his program because the voters had spoken in 2002 to keep the tax.
Best Line: Bill Halter to Jim Holt when Holt kept contending in a lieutenant governor’s debate that Halter wouldn’t give a straight answer about gay foster parenthood. Halter had just said he was against it. Halter turned to Holt and told him he couldn’t seem to “take yes for an answer.”
Greatest Affront to Sane Political Discourse: (Tie) Blogs and the latest installment of this new monthly AETN public affairs show called “Unconventional Wisdom” in which a couple of new-age pundits looking for the celebrity gimmick that dominates media anymore brought in Wally Hall — I am not making that up — to analyze the gubernatorial TV commercials.
Most Predictable Debate Analysis: I had a voice mail at the office when I arrived the other morning. It was from Asa Hutchinson, or so the voice said and so the voice sounded. He said he just wanted to let me know that he thought he’d done very well in the debate with Beebe in Jonesboro. Is there a Republican playbook that instructs one to make such a call? If so, why has it not been burned?
Gubernatorial Candidate Most Likely to Kick My You Know What: No tie here. It’s Rod Bryan, the bicycling independent who has called me a name on one of those blogs where he is reduced to communicating (first syllable a word meaning donkey; second syllable a word meaning aperture), a charge against which I’ve yet to raise any defense or find any defender. Bryan yelled at me through his helmet as he rode his elongated bicycle in the neighborhood the other day, “Hey, that was some cold stuff you wrote about me.” All I’d said was that he’s become a candidate of stunts rather than ideas.
Biggest Whiner: No, it’s not Bryan or Jim Lendall over being excluded from debates, which tends to happen to guys showing up at 1 percent or below in the polls. The winner is Jim Lagrone, who very nearly had me feeling sorry for him over allegations that he lied about whether his son was in Iraq when his son didn’t get his vote counted in 2004. That was before Lagrone went to Mountain Home and got quoted telling a small audience that it was the liberal media that got him. Is it a preacher's thing — this us-against-them superficiality replete with chronic embellishment?
Biggest Bunch of You-Know-What: That there’s a liberal media.
Biggest Surprise: That I’m going to wind up voting for Charlie Daniels again. The key to political success is your opponents, and Charlie’s had a couple of doozies: Janet Huckabee and now this Lagrone character.