Some of us covering Arkansas politics got an e-mail last week from state Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway that amounted to his wholly unsolicited statement of concern about all this health care business.
What some of us who cover Arkansas politics looked for and failed to discern was context.
There are 35 state senators. There are 100 state representatives. There are hundreds more persons holding state and local elected office across the state. We can't be worrying about statements out of the blue from all of them expressing concern about all this health care business.
Anyway, Gilbert's statement was barely north of gibberish.
Everywhere he goes everyone is asking about health care, he writes. He sure was proud of Mike Ross for holding up that House bill for three weeks, Gilbert adds. It worries him no end, he writes, that Blanche Lincoln says “we must do something” on health care when that something might be a government takeover.
I have two words for Gilbert: So what?
His statement says nothing. It offers not one solution. It establishes no foundation beyond a base pedestrian one.
If this means that Baker intends to seek the Republican nomination to challenge Lincoln's re-election to the U.S. Senate next year, then we might have something to go on. We'd still have a hollow pointless statement, but we in the media regurgitate hollow, pointless statements from political candidates all the time.
So I rang Gilbert and left a voice-mail that he needed to call me as soon as possible because someone apparently had hacked into his e-mail and was putting out nonsense under his name.
He called back and appeared to be amused, a sense of humor being maybe his best thing. Then there's his energy. Then there's his personality. Then there's his occasionally moderate, pragmatic bent as a state senator. Way down there with his ability to slam-dunk a basketball is his command of federal policy.
Baker said only one thing interesting. It was that he had been hearing all that concern about health care amid a void.
By that he meant that no one was saying anything in a widespread public way that was counter to what the Democrats were proposing in Washington and counter to whatever it is — and we can never be quite sure — that Lincoln is saying.
What Gilbert really was saying is that none of the declared Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate has managed to fill a void of loyal opposition. There are several such candidates, though none come to mind except the wildly eccentric Kim Hendren and that Huckabee-ite named Curtis Coleman who insulted all of eastern Arkansas by saying you needed shots to go there.
In other words, Baker is thinking hard about filling the void — about running. He once thought hard about it, then he nearly decided against it, and now he's thinking hard about it again.
He's also thinking hard about having lunch with that seeming Mr. Wonderful, meaning the perhaps mythical figure out of Yell County named Tom Cotton.
Cotton is said to be a Harvard-educated lawyer who served as a captain in Afghanistan and is now back in Arkansas. He, or his resume, is coveted by some Republican insiders as a potential Senate candidate.
If they indeed have that lunch, just the two of them, Baker and Cotton, then I'm figuring the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate will be at that table.