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Hail to the Huck

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If Mike Huckabee was ever going to run for president, this looks like the year to do it. Everybody else is. The huge block of type in the daily paper that we first thought was the delinquent tax list turned out to be a roster of all the presidential candidates who’ve announced so far. More are expected, so why not The Huck, other than his snarly disposition, his grabbiness for gratuities, and his love of secrecy in government. If Huckabee should win and take Brenda Turner with him, every hard drive in Washington will be in danger.

With so many choices, you’d think every voter could find something he likes. But much the same was said of cable television (“With all those channels …”) and that hasn’t worked out. The presidential field is not only large, it’s undistinguished, filled with former governors, congressmen nobody’s heard of, and a smattering of extremists. Next to Sam Brownback or Tom Tancredo, Huckabee appears presidential, as does Spongebob Squarepants.

“If Huckabee should win … “ Frightening words, but a possibility that must be confronted. Besides the furtive Turner, who served as the governor’s chief of staff for two terms while hidden from reporters, photographers and taxpayers, Huckabee probably would be accompanied also by his taciturn press spokeswoman, Alice Stewart – “You don’t ask, I don’t tell” – and his bro-in-law, who was kept on the state payroll throughout the Huck administration while the governor criticized other officials for nepotism. The irrepressible Mrs. Huckabee would be in the group too, of course, and as a good ol’, rough-and-ready girl from Arkansas, she’d be mocked by Washington’s society queens. She would then kick their butts into the Tidal Basin. It’s almost worth electing Huckabee to see that.

Beebe could shine

It would be a generous and statesman-like act for Gov. Mike Beebe to accept an earned income tax credit from the legislature in place of his own proposal to halve the state sales tax on groceries. An EITC would provide more help to the working poor than would a cut in the sales tax, and it would make the state tax structure more progressive, which it badly needs to be, by giving tax relief only to those who need it. A sales tax cut, aiding even the richest among us, would make the system more regressive than it already is. That rich as well as poor could buy their baloney cheaper with a sales-tax cut is part of the proposal’s political appeal: We want ours too. A good governor, as we hope Beebe will be, would resist that appeal and embrace the legislation that does the most good for the state’s underprivileged.

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