The last time I spoke with presidential contender Mike Huckabee, I asked him to go ahead and give me the scoop that he actually favored Mike Beebe for governor.
Huckabee gruffly dismissed my thoroughly logical suggestion as absurd. He favored me with a different scoop.
It was that he would give Iowa and New Hampshire a break and stay in Arkansas quite a bit in October. He said he would spend some of that time campaigning with his Republican mate who seeks to succeed him, Asa Hutchinson.
That’s despite the fact that Huckabee has long had a rivalry with, and aversion to, anyone named Hutchinson. And vice versa.
I’m a fair-minded fellow, not much for blindsiding politicians. I take time to think about what I write, occasional appearances to the contrary. Politicians deserve time to formulate their thinking as well.
Here, then, are a few questions for Huckabee on the occasion of his forthcoming joint appearances with Hutchinson. Answers will be due at the time of the first of those appearances.
1. Governor, you are supporting as your successor the candidate who says we need to keep open that tiny high school at a place called Paron. That’s the school closing ordered by the Bryant School Board that you and your Education Board approved on the basis that we dare not retreat on imposing course standards. Why do you now abandon lofty educational principles to support this fellow with whom you so fundamentally disagree?
2. This candidate you’re supporting says we need to keep open tiny rural schools in general, regardless of whether they teach all the classes they’re supposedly required to teach. But you were the one who went to the legislature to declare nobly and bravely that high schools simply had to be put together all across Arkansas. You said it was to achieve economies of scale to provide better and equalized instruction, facilities and materials. Again, I ask: Why Asa’s fortunes over our children’s?
3. Is the aforementioned merely a matter of your personal political expediency? Do you calculate that it would hurt your chances in the Republican presidential race if you failed to support your party’s nominee to succeed you as governor at home, no matter how hollow the exercise?
4. As the leading state senator, Beebe worked closely with you in the face of opposition from know-nothings in both your parties on two of your proudest and finest gubernatorial accomplishments. I refer to creating the ARKids First program and spending the tobacco money on public health. What is it that you know about Beebe that is so powerfully negative that it trumps this long-standing alliance? Is it that you think he’s corrupt because he was in the Senate when Nick Wilson stole all that money? But how much did Beebe actually steal? Which one — you or Beebe — has taken more gifts? Who cashed in more extravagantly — Beebe as state senator or Hutchinson as a leading federal bureaucrat?
5. You are famously compassionate toward illegal immigrants. But this gentleman you support says we need to certify our State Police as INS agents so they can round up illegals. He plainly implies that the state under your leadership hasn’t done enough to fight immigration and fill in for the federal enforcement that he was once in charge of. Hutchinson’s running mate for lieutenant governor wants to provide services to pregnant illegals only in exchange for deporting them, a proposal you found so repulsive that you declared that he was drinking a “different Jesus juice” from yours. What is Jesus juice? What flavor is Asa drinking?
Finally, a question for Hutchinson: You are accepting overt help from the only politician in Arkansas with higher negative ratings than your own. What’s up with that?