When I visited with him last week, Fayetteville Police Chief Frank Johnson told me that he especially enjoyed the arrow columns. Perhaps he was merely being polite, but I took it as all the encouragement I needed.
DOWN ARROW George W. Bush - He said last week at the White House that our terrorist enemies never stop thinking of ways to harm us, "and neither do we." The next day he tripped and skidded and fumbled his way through a question-and-answer session with a panel of reporters at a convention of minority journalists. He insisted that he opposed only enrollment quotas, not affirmative action, which he described as acting "affirminatively." Apparently, one purpose of his presidency is to show the country what a Dan Quayle presidency would have been like.
DOWN ARROW Campaign songs - As John Edwards took the microphone last week in North Little Rock, they cranked up "Soul Man." Apparently we were to understand that Edwards was coming to us on a dusty road with a truckload of good lovin', and that when he started that good lovin', he couldn't stop. John Kerry uses Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender," surely for the chorus, never minding the ode to education in the first stanza: "Well we bursted out of class; had to get away from those fools; we learned more from a three-minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school."
UP Mike Huckabee - He bats cleanup in Arkansas for the Bush campaign, meaning he will qualify for favors for himself and the state in the probable event that Bush carries Arkansas (he currently leads by 3 points) and in the less certain event that Bush wins the presidency. If indeed the Bush campaign leaned on the governor to get himself out of controversy over clemencies, then the Bush campaign gave him good advice and did the state a favor.
UP Win Paul Rockefeller - How desperately does he want to be governor? So desperately that he would attend the formal opening of the campaign headquarters of state Sen. Jim Holt, the extreme religious conservative who won a Republican U.S. Senate nomination no serious candidate wanted and is such a marginalized figure that I kind of thought his party might ignore him. But Win Paul, angling to ingratiate himself with the many-childrened wing of his ever-rightward party, likened Holt to giant-killing Dale Bumpers when Bumpers defeated Win Paul's daddy.
UP Mike Ross - The South Arkansas Democratic congressman nets a cover piece in the Arkansas Times about the prospect that he might seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2006. More importantly, he nets a cover picture aiming a firearm. He is a serious candidate for statewide office because he is the only Democrat I know who is NRA-insulated, meaning endorsed by the gun lobby.
UP Mike Beebe - Though his presumptiveness as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee was weakened by the aforementioned Ross development, the likeliest scenario remains that Ross will get a better House committee assignment and choose to seek re-election. In a mind-numbing array of mostly silly and forgettable speeches by a dozen state Democrats at the Edwards rally in North Little Rock last week, Beebe won plaudits for achieving a rousing partisanship the inclination for which his career as a pragmatic legislative insider had never revealed. One piece of advice: When he talks about what a great country this is in which a kid born to an unmarried waitress in Amagon and who went to five schools in five states in the fifth grade could go to college and law school and prominent public office, he needs to go ahead and make clear that he's talking about himself. As he related that personal story at the rally, two people asked me who he was talking about.