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Virtue denied

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You don't like to see your attorney general imitating Mitt Romney. For that matter, you don't like to see your barber, or your newspaper carrier, imitating Mitt Romney. Irresponsibility, greed, mendacity — these are not traits that inspire confidence in any professional. But in an attorney general, elected to uphold the very law of the land, to distinguish right from wrong and favor the former, signs of Romnitis are especially alarming. Dustin McDaniel is broken out.

Romney has devoted his presidential campaign to denying that he actually did what is clearly the greatest accomplishment of his life, probably the only one worth mentioning. That was his winning approval in Massachusetts of a health-care plan known as Romneycare. It's brought health care to thousands who lacked it before. But ever since President Obama persuaded Congress to enact the same plan nationally, and Republican political strategists began feigning outrage, Romney has insisted that he had no part in the advancement of his namesake program. It wasn't he but some other Massachusetts governor who may have resembled him, he has said. He claims he's never felt a moment's pity for those who need medical care but can't pay for it. He's promised that if elected president, he will personally visit pediatric hospitals to pull IVs from children's arms. "They're using tax dollars that should go to the Koch brothers," he's said.

Rather like Romney, McDaniel now says that a public display of honesty some months back was just a slip, not an indicator of the real Dustin McDaniel at all. While declining to join a lawsuit against Obamacare (a decision for which he still deserves credit), McDaniel said the litigation was "frivolous," and its backers more interested in politics than law. He was entirely correct, but now he rues being right. It was a poor choice of words, he says, an inadvertent use of the truthful instead of the untruthful. Repented now, he pleads, like Romney, "give dishonesty a chance." But Arkansas has tried that with politicians before. Didn't work out well.

THOSE FRIENDS AND ALUMNI of the University of Arkansas who are not registered Republicans fret over the institution's slide toward becoming an auxiliary of the party. They'd rather it remain the flagship university of the state.

The danger is considerable. The Walton Foundation, financier of Republican causes and candidates, founded an "education reform" department at Fayetteville that promotes the Republican planks on education. A UA economic research office tirelessly performs studies of public policy that inevitably conclude the Republican way is best. The chairman of the board of trustees, Mike Akin, himself a Republican candidate for the state legislature, wants to hire a former Republican state chairman and legislator as a lobbyist, ostensibly for the university, but ...? Is there a connection here with those ghastly gray uniforms the Razorback football team will wear next year? Will Elephants replace Razorbacks as the UA's mascot? Extremism in pursuit of partisanship is no vice, to the Mike Akins. It's extremism in pursuit of education that they fear.


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