Divider, not decider 

His administration in ruin on all fronts – the war, the economy, the environment – George W. Bush needs cover. He finds it in scapegoating gay Americans, as if they and not he were responsible for the mess the country is in.

Shirking the serious business that needs attending to, the president is instead out promoting an amendment to the United States Constitution that would ban gay marriage, denying rights not only to individuals but to the 50 states, which have historically written their own laws governing marriage. Bush wants to force a vote in the Senate, even knowing that body still has sense enough to reject the amendment. He believes that this deliberate divisiveness will stimulate a large turnout by bigots in the November elections. Bigots have always been an important element of the Bush base, though not so important as the corporate executives who have financed his career. (Many of them are now doing time, and thus unable to contribute as they once did.)

If there’s a bright side to this dereliction of duty by the commander in chief, it’s that the country as a whole seems not nearly as concerned about gay marriage as Bush and his fundamentalist allies are. A nation that is losing jobs to Mexico and sons in Iraq is unlikely to be diverted by the administration’s attack on a minority. The James Dobsons and Jerry Falwells may wallow in this sort of spitefulness. The American people are better than that.

Dobson’s group, “Focus on the Family,” is running vicious ads against senators who don’t support the amendment, including one that says of Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado, “Why doesn’t Sen. Salazar believe every child needs a mother and a father?” Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor have been vilified in the same way. They can withstand it. Dobson and his kind are a loud and nasty minority, but a minority nonetheless.

The Arkansas Times recommends these candidates in the June 13 runoff elections. Early voting is under way.

In the Democratic primary, BILL HALTER is the choice for lieutenant governor. He’s something of an unknown quantity, but his opponent, state Sen. Tim Wooldridge, is too much known, the extreme sort of conservative who’d seem more at home in the Republican Party than the Democratic. Wooldridge also supported Deltic Timber’s scheme to put high-priced houses on the banks of Lake Maumelle, a development that would threaten Central Arkansas’s principal water supply.

On the Republican side, we endorsed DAN GREENBERG for the state House of Representatives District 31 in the first primary, and we’re sticking with him in the runoff. No Democrat is seeking this seat.



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