Favorite

The first 10 days 

Gov. Mike Huckabee has always been strong on form--a polished speaker with a friendly manner. The new chief executive hasn't wasted time demonstrating substance, either.

I'm not thinking so much of Huckabee's performance during Jim Guy Tucker's four-hour resignation waffle July 15. Huckabee was eloquent and firm in "crisis," but his impeachment threat was essentially hollow. It probably couldn't have been accomplished before Tucker got what he wanted--a final verdict on his acquittal motions.

The duly sworn governor impressed the next day with a policy speech to a Little Rock civic club. It included, of course, the trinity of bedrock conservative Republican orthodoxy--lower taxes, leaner government and family values. But it was a speech of evolution to his political goals, not revolution. Newt Gingrich, take note.

More impressive still was the day-old governor's appearance on a call-in show with Steve Barnes on Arkansas Educational Television. The viewers' questions, and Barnes' follow-ups, were pointed. Huckabee was funny, informed and newsy, particularly when it came to gambling. I'm paraphrasing, but his message was that if existing race tracks keep trying to expand gambling, no one should blame opponents for trying to wipe out gambling in Arkansas altogether.

I liked what he said about the Governor's School. He enjoys the interchange with brainy students, he says, even when it's hostile. And he doesn't mind that students' beliefs are challenged in the program. He only asks that they hear from all sides.

He's halfway home on honoraria, a defining issue. He has decided not to accept paid preaching jobs in state. He's undecided on out-of-state appearances. I hope he'll agree, in time, that these higher dollar appearances before political interest groups carry an even greater appearance of profiteering from office.

But there was no indecision on one important matter. He's enrolled his kids in Little Rock public schools. The previous governor didn't and you couldn't blame any newcomer for doing otherwise, given the skewed media images.

Huckabee also sounds like a man very nearly committed to be governor for a while, not to jump ship for a Senate race in 1998. More credit due.

Has Tucker's temporary insanity rubbed off on this persistent Huckabee critic? Not hardly.

The first 10 days weren't flawless. For one thing, he should declare amnesty on the Tucker last-minute appointments, not use party officials to foment bickering. He also could mute the Reaganesque rhetorical flourishes. He says we should crack down on fathers for child support, but forgets to note that we are. He says able-bodied people should not receive welfare checks unless they are caring for children, but forgets to say they don't. He says he'll insist on courteous state employees, but forgets to add that most are.

He's a quick study. He may win me over completely yet.

Print headline: "The first 10 days" July 26, 1996.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015
  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Kids count, not confidentiality

    The trial for the murder of Isaiah Torres, 6, was a reminder again of a gaping hole in the law pertaining to child protective services.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Fixing blame: President Trump

    Did the press fail? Were liberal-leaning journalists on the coasts responsible for missing the Trump wave among middle-to-lower income white voters with lower educational attainment?
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Can we get along?

    he Times production deadline fell before polls closed this week, so I'll look to the past and future.
    • Nov 10, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Worth it

    • And loyal, to a fault.

    • on December 6, 2016
  • Re: Worth it

    • Alas, Gene's memory ain't what it used to be. He wrote a column some time…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Forget identity politics

    • Hillarys 'Stronger Together' nonsense failed because she failed to make it a reality. As Gene…

    • on December 5, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation