Columns » John Brummett

Political wives and me



My biggest personal conflicts haven't been with male politicians I've trashed, but with wives of male politicians I've trashed.

Hillary Clinton couldn't seem to stand me. Janet Huckabee always seemed to want to spit when she said my name.

Now there's Bobye Holt, who would seem to have problems enough with the way she spells Bobbie.

She's the wife of Jim Holt, the right-wing extremist from Springdale who wants to deny humane services to illegal immigrants and edit science out of the textbooks.

I mentioned Holt's mean conservatism in passing the other day. It was in the course of analyzing his signing on as a paid consultant to a Hutchinson in-law in a supposedly nonpartisan Court of Appeals judgeship race in Northwest Arkansas.

Next I heard, Bobye had fired off a hostile public letter about me, spreading it from blog to blog, asserting, among other things, that I'm “bitter at God”  for the bad things I've seen happen to my family.

I am? What bad things? Hey, Mom, are you all right?

Actually, I think I know where this comes from.

Bobye's extremist husband and I have had numerous discussions over the years, none fruitful. I suspect he routinely tells Bobye about them. Often, in fact, I have heard her providing her two cents in the background as he and I banter by phone.

I seem to recall explaining to him once that I blamed intolerant fundamentalist religion, a variety of which is widely practiced among some of my fine kinfolks, for assorted cultural and social woes.

If you are unable to separate regional fundamentalist and narrow-minded strains of American Christian Protestantism from God Himself, then perhaps you would be inclined to make the extraordinary and nonsensical leap that Bobye made.

Being of a more enlightened strain, I forgive her.

Janet Huckabee said something similar years ago, though much more cleverly, even, perhaps, metaphorically. She said that I must have been run over as a child by a church bus.

Bobye's letter also quoted me as telling her husband once that I was a liberal with socialist tendencies.

As if there was something wrong with that.

I support Medicare, which is socialized medicine for old people. I support Medicaid, which is socialized medicine for poor and disabled people. I support Social Security, which is socialized pay for retired working people. I support road-user fees for socialized highways on socialized right of ways, which are much more convenient than requiring all of us to pave our private roads along our own privately purchased paths.

Bobye also alleged in this missive that I had committed an untruth by saying that her husband wanted to deny humane services to illegal immigrants. She challenged me to define “humane.”

I will happily oblige anecdotally.

It would be humane to permit academically eligible and innocent children of illegal immigrants to go to college on scholarships for which they were otherwise qualified. Holt opposes that.

It is not what I would call humane — but odd and cold — to say, as Holt has said, that prenatal care should be provided a pregnant illegal immigrant only if she has money.

Bobye also wrote that Jim wants only to edit bad science about evolution out of textbooks.

The problem, naturally, is that he nominates himself and other fundamentalist religious fringe artists as arbiters of what's good science and bad.

One other thing: Bobye wrote that the Holts have a videotape of the legislative committee hearing years ago at which Jim presented his audacious bill to rewrite science textbooks in his own fringe image. She wrote that I could be seen on the tape showing keen interest. She wrote that I admitted later that my heart had been stirred.

I plead guilty to maintaining keen interest, that being my job.

But I don't remember saying my heart was stirred. Maybe she misunderstood. Maybe I said I had heartburn.


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