Favorite

Same old song 

Bush’s brain, Karl Rove, came to Arkansas last week to raise money for the Republican Party. His appearance at UCA presented an opportunity for statewide candidates to make brief remarks.

Chuck Banks, who’s running for lieutenant governor, used his minute to mention a devotion to free speech, religion, property rights and guns. And he remarked on other critical issues in the race to preside over the Arkansas Senate — gay marriage, which he opposes, and “Brokeback Mountain,” the cowboy love story. “I told my wife I don’t care if it gets 20 Golden Globe awards, I’m not going to see it,” Banks said. The line brought down the house, we’re told. Good setting. Rove has used antipathy toward homosexuals as a powerful political tool for Republicans.

Banks is a Little Rock trial lawyer, four dirty words to many in the critical Northwest Arkansas Republican base. He’s a good and amiable lawyer. And courageous. As U.S. attorney, he refused to allow his office to be used as a political pawn by the first Bush administration, which wanted Banks to trump up an investigation against Bill Clinton to hurt his election chances in 1992. Banks wouldn’t play along.

Perhaps for that reason, Banks is viewed suspiciously by some Republicans, though he uses every opportunity to prove he’s no liberal. (Just about anybody would look liberal against Jim Holt and Rep. Doug Matayo, his primary opponents.) The Republican base leans heavily toward conservative fundamentalists. To appease them, you must denounce abortion and homosexuality. Banks wanted to show in Conway that his “values” were correct.

Banks knew exactly what I was calling about a couple of days later. He bridled at any suggestion he was anti-gay or that his remark should cause offense. “Consenting adults have a right to choose an alternative lifestyle. I’m just not interested in seeing a movie that promotes that in some respect.” Bad answer. Homosexuality is neither a lifestyle nor a choice.

It didn’t matter that Banks didn’t want to see “Brokeback Mountain.” What matters is that he didn’t see how his remarks and the hooting jackboots who cheered them marginalized one sector of society. I asked Banks if it had occurred to him that a gay person might have been uncomfortable there. He wouldn’t get into feelings. “They’d understand,” he said. Indeed. Any gay person with a brain understands that a candidate in the party of Lincoln must make it clear by words and deeds that gay people should be second-class citizens.

Again, these are my words. Banks insisted he doesn’t endorse discrimination against gay people. Except when it comes to marriage, of course. (He says he hasn’t “thought through” whether sodomy should be criminalized anew should new members of the Supreme Court decide to reopen that question, as many conservatives hope.)

I never expected Banks to embrace gay marriage or abortion rights. But I had hoped for a touch less enthusiasm for whipping up these largely irrelevant issues.

Banks assured me, “I’ve got friends who I believe have an alternative lifestyle.”

What? Democrats?

Postscript: After a weekend of reflection, Banks called back to say I was right about a couple of points I’d raised. “I’m going to be more careful,” he said. “If I’m saying something hurtful and not intending to be, that’s not me. … I’m not going to be about words that divide.”

OK, then. A slightly better tune.




Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Bipartisan deal to continue subsidies Trump ended. But ...

    Everyone's reporting that Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander have struck a bipartisan deal on to continue federal subsidies for health coverage that Donald Trump cut off.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • Tuesday: Open line, news roundup

    The open line, plus the day's news roundup.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • James Lee Witt corrects Trump on grade for Puerto Rico relief effort

    Donald Trump twice yesterday used James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's widely hailed FEMA director and now in the private business of assisting in disasters, as a reference on the work he's done responding to hurricanes this year. Media, particularly on the conservative end, have echoed the Trump remarks.But hold on: Witt wasn't talking about Puerto Rico.
    • Oct 17, 2017
  • More »

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