Favorite

A failed coup, Arkansas style 

I'd had ample warning, but I couldn't credit it. It was too crazy to think Jim Guy Tucker would really renege on his promise to resign July 15.

But that was before Monday, banana republic day in Arkansas, when angry mobs surged through the Capitol.

The first hint came from Tucker himself in a meeting a couple of weeks ago. He told me, in the course of a discussion of his short-lived notion to hold a special legislative session, that he had acted too hastily in setting a resignation date following his felony convictions. His motions for acquittal awaited action of the federal judge. What if he were to resign and the judge were to make him an innocent man again? The possibility tormented him. Better, he said, if he had declared a disability and allowed Mike Huckabee to act as governor temporarily.

Tucker did not, in case you wonder, sound crazy. He emphasized that he didn't expect the judge to grant his motions. But Tucker's second thoughts apparently grew stronger last week, when his lawyers developed evidence that a sitting juror had, during his trial, married a man who had been denied clemency by the governor.

Tucker seized the new development, letting hope outweigh reason. When he sought counsel, most of his best advisers urged him to keep his word. But some underestimated the public fallout of a change of heart. Word began circulating Friday that a change was in the wind. Attorney General Winston Bryant even began researching the lawsuit he filed on the shocking official news Monday.

Ironically, if Tucker had declared a disability immediately after his conviction, he probably could have gotten away with it. Mike Huckabee would have had the power of government; most would have accepted as fair the idea that Tucker, governor in name only, should be given a few more weeks for his last-ditch motions. There would have been no substantive call for impeachment, no lawsuit for removal.

Incidentally, Huckabee would have been in a political bind. It would have been far more difficult for him to make the decision to leave the Senate race.

So there it is. Tucker did Huckabee a favor by promptly announcing his plans to resign. Then, with his bombshell inauguration interruptus, he helped make Huckabee a folk hero. Already riding a wave of good feeling, Huckabee was soothing, but forceful in the four-hour constitutional crisis, climaxed by the hour in which the two men claimed the governor's office.

Friends insist Tucker yielded when he realized his resistance imperiled the viability of the entire state Democratic Party. But the public will remember that, chronologically, Tucker folded after Huckabee's public vow to begin speedy impeachment proceedings

Much is to come. But at this minute, it's easy--if not altogether comforting to liberal souls--to picture a state governed 10 more years by a man from Hope.

Print headline: "A failed coup, Arkansas style" July 19, 1996.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • LR Central at 70

    The city of Little Rock has finished its "Reflections on Progress" observance of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School and the people most affected managed to put well-placed asterisks on the notion that this was a story all about racial progress.
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

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: Trust and obey

    • A very timely and beautifully written piece. Indeed, the whole frightening paradigm is about preserving…

    • on October 15, 2017
  • Re: Trust and obey

    • Anyone else ponder how many times donald trump, playboy for five-decades, may have paid for/insisted…

    • on October 14, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theories

    • Here's the business end of the Politifact article cited above by Vanessa: "Newsweek's claim is…

    • on October 14, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation