Columns » John Brummett

Hillary trashes our weather

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Dubious about the wisdom of the Democrats’ nominating for president another lightning rod for cultural resentment, people have asked, “Just which state that John Kerry lost does anyone think Hillary Clinton might win?” How about ours? She spent her early adulthood in Arkansas, was the state’s first lady for a dozen years, contemplated running for governor herself, practiced law with a prominent state firm, made several good friends locally who profess adoration for her still and traveled the rural towns advocating for education and children’s health. You can make an arguable case. But you can also make a stout counter-argument. Hillary always was a cultural alien here, beginning with her keeping her own last name until surrendering it under duress in service to what until recently was her life’s work, meaning her husband’s political career. When Bill got elected president, she gave a bit of an impression of being pleased to escape. She revisited rarely. Most biographies chronicle her horror at having to come here for Her Boy Bill in the first place. Her last real connection, that her mom lived here, no longer exists. Dorothy Rodham sold her Hillcrest condominium last year and bailed for Washington to be closer to her family. Anyway, Arkansas has only six electoral votes, not enough to mitigate Kerry’s deficit. Hillary will need Florida or Ohio. So, maybe it was not such a major development two weeks ago when Hillary trashed us as Tornado Alley and unfit for relocation of most of the Air Force’s C-130 aircraft. What happened was that the Pentagon’s base-closure commission recommended consolidating nearly all C-130s at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville. This absolutely spectacular news for Greater Little Rock would mean among other things that the Niagara Air Reserve Base near Buffalo, N.Y., would lose its eight C-130s to Arkansas. Naturally, western New York didn’t like this, and, naturally, New York’s U.S. senators were obliged to resist the action. Hillary rose to the occasion. She told the New York press that she questioned the advisability of consolidating the nation’s fleet of cargo planes in “Tornado Alley,” asking, “Why would you put all your C-130s in a place with weather problems?” To be fair, she also trashed the “unpredictable” weather in Bangor, Maine, where the Pentagon wants to move Niagara’s tankers. She took a moment to stipulate that Little Rock was a “fine base,” and that her argument was not with Arkansas, but with the Pentagon’s desire to “put all our eggs in one basket.” And she got sympathetic and magnanimous words from the Democratic congressman representing the Little Rock base, Vic Snyder, who told the New York press that Hillary loved Arkansas and that her position was not at all personal. It may be that Snyder can afford to be sympathetic and magnanimous. The prevailing theory in Washington is that since the country is currently run by Republicans and since Hillary is the GOP’s Public Enemy No. 1 and up for re-election to the Senate next year, Clinton will not be allowed to emerge as a champion saving a vital institution in her home state. On the other hand, Republicans have no chance of denying her re-election and she can contend that this is all a cynical attempt to sacrifice essential jobs and commerce near Buffalo to do her political harm. She’ll be fine, with or without the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base and with or without Arkansas.

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