Columns » Max Brantley

Truth in government

Why attempt a coherent theme in today's incoherent political world?

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Why attempt a coherent theme in today's incoherent political world?

However bad things may appear, we'll always have the Republican gubernatorial primary for entertainment of a gruesome sort. There, gun range owner Jan Morgan is doing her best to make Governor Hutchinson out to be a liberal. Hutchinson has endorsed legal discrimination against gay people; unconstitutional abortion laws; open carry of firearms; and throwing tens of thousands off Medicaid coverage. If this be liberal, God save us from a "real" conservative.

But she IS colorful. She went down to Fouke last week, where she got a hug from a guy wearing a Boggy Creek monster costume. When sympathizing about the end of slavery defender Robert E. Lee's state holiday, she mentioned that she'd been informed by the FBI that she was on ISIS' hit list. ?!?

If ISIS does go after Morgan, be advised she has lots of guns. They weren't in Fouke on Friday as far as we know.

And what about Sen. Tom Cotton? The tall-talking former Dardanelle Sand Lizard is too mean to inspire humor. Consider: We learned last week his staff was outed for getting so tired of critical phone calls that they sent cease-and-desist letters that threatened police investigation if recipients continued ANY communication. Even Sen. John Boozman's office said he wouldn't go that far in response to a coarse word or two. It would be a First Amendment violation to prosecute someone for attempting to petition government. Cotton's refusal to provide routine taxpayer-financed press services to critical members of the media (such as me) is benign by comparison.

And then there was the string of Cotton whoppers about Donald Trump's vulgar remarks about Haiti and countries in Africa and Central America. Shitholes, he called them, according to multiple sources. Cotton, who was in the meeting, first said he had no recollection of such comments. Then, his memory refreshed, he accused Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham of lying about Trump's words. Then under questioning by Chuck Todd on TV's "Meet the Press," he conceded Trump used "salty" words, just not "repeatedly." To compound the dishonesty, he asserted he'd never denied Trump's use of ugly language. Know this: Cotton will say or do anything to retain his role as a Trump adviser on immigration. This is no joke. It is a tragedy for the Dreamers whose future in America hangs in the balance.

Then there's Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who bragged at a modestly attended anti-abortion march about her work for, get this, women's health. This follows a year in which she fought to strip women of abortion rights; in which she defended restrictions on availability of contraception; in which she fought to deny women the doctor of their choice; and in which she championed a state law aimed at preventing abortion by pills in the first days after sex. That last law, by the way, required an unsafe dosage of medication.

Dare we hope that the continued vibrancy of the Women's March a year after the first following Donald Trump's election is a sign that the women may take over where men have failed? Record numbers of women are running for office. Polls show a 35-point gender gap against Trump. (Could we end men's suffrage?) Even in places like Little Rock and Nashville, Tenn., thousands turned out, pink pussy hats flying, to march not just for reproductive rights, but a federal government in keeping with majority sentiment on immigration, gun safety, health care and education.

Hurry November. But, yes, I know. Careful what you wish for.

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