Columns » Max Brantley

Daylight and dark


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If polls and campaign treasuries are any measure, the 2nd District of Arkansas will see retiring U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, a liberal Democrat, replaced by Tim Griffin, an extreme right-wing Republican. It will be a victory tinged with irony. This is the year of revolt against Washington insiders, right? Griffin has spent virtually all his working life as part of the Republican political attack machine in Washington.

If Griffin wins, he'll beat an Arkansas school teacher and compassionate and effective Arkansas legislator. Sen. Joyce Elliott also has deep roots in the district, unlike Griffin, a Fourth District native who moved to Little Rock to run for political office.

It will be a daylight-to-dark (and I do mean dark) change. Consider Tim Griffin:

• He was part of a Republican operation that targeted poor, black voters in Florida with technical vote challenges designed to reduce turnout of Democrat-leaning voters.

• He worked for the Bush White House on the unsuccessful campaign to privatize Social Security.

• He's misrepresented the extent of his military legal service.

• He was the source of malicious and unfounded rumors about U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins. His aim was to get himself installed as U.S. attorney in place of Cummins without a Senate confirmation hearing.

• He says he'll bring fiscal discipline to Washington, but he supports continuing the tax breaks for millionaires that helped fuel the deficit. He has offered no specific cuts of the size necessary to restore a balanced budget.

• He opposes a woman's constitutional right to choose an abortion.

• He opposes military service by acknowledged gays.

• He favors legalized employment discrimination against gay people.

• He opposes the bipartisan legislation to begin curbing carbon emissions and wants more domestic oil drilling.

• He opposes any leveling of the playing field for organized labor in union negotiations.

• He's decried as extremists a group of local women who support peace and reduced military spending. These dangerous women include such radicals as Betty Bumpers and Jean Gordon, who stared down bigger bullies as a Little Rock School Board member during the heat of the desegregation era.

• He opposes the estate tax.

• He advocates a constitutional balanced budget amendment, a potentially harmful curb on government spending in times of crisis.

• He would repeal health care reform legislation. He opposes universal health care. He thinks the free market is the solution to health coverage. He has no apparent understanding of the millions who can't pay their mortgage or their light bill, much less set aside money in a health care savings account.

• He opposes the Bush and Obama bailouts of financial institutions and the auto industry, no matter how many jobs they might have saved.

• His belief that the U.S. must "win the war" in Afghanistan signals a long-term commitment to military involvement in a country that has, until now, proved unwinnable by outside forces.

• Unlike more compassionate Republicans before him, he opposes amnesty for people who entered the country illegally. He adamantly opposes college help for undocumented immigrants, even those with Arkansas high school degrees and lifetimes spent here since arriving in the U.S. as infants.

• He toes the NRA line on gun laws.

• He supports sending public money to private schools through vouchers.

There's plenty more, but this should be ample warning. Many voters will find this resume pleasing. But it's a brutal departure from 14 years of Vic Snyder.


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