Brantley: The last, desperate days 

click to enlarge Doyle Webb image
  • Doyle Webb

The clock rolls toward election day next Tuesday. For more than 200,000 early voters, it's already over.

The posture of the dominant political parties doesn't forecast a pretty outcome.

Democrats are still trying to circulate research that demonstrates the personal failings of individual Republican candidates.

Republicans are so confident in their one-note message (President Obama bad) that Party Chair Doyle Webb happily defends the indefensible. He describes statements by legislative candidates soft on slavery and strong on execution of stubborn children as matters of conscience — free expression that isn't ground for eviction from the Republican fold.

Doyle Webb knows his voters and their faith-based outlook. Facts don't matter.

Democrats have unearthed embarrassing stuff about several Republican legislative candidates. There's the pastor (his degree from an unaccredited on-line seminary) who's been late or inaccurate in public record filings and a slow pay on credit card bills.

There's another counselor, who pronounced from the pulpit on women's need to devote more time to their husband than their children, who also has a challenged record on business license payments.

There's a candidate with an inflated educational resume. There's another suspected of, but not charged with, reporting a false property theft to make an insurance claim.

There's some unhappy domestic court stuff.

I've resisted exploring these cases for various reasons, including age of some cases and trivial nature of others. But I also don't think the voters who'll decide this election — swing voters tilting Republican — are likely to let allegations of personal shortcomings (be they indisputable or not) distract them from the big message the Republican Party has sold so well:

1) Government is too big and too expensive. (Forget for a minute it's expensive because of all the benefits it bestows on the working poor in the growing Republican base.) 2) The president isn't like us — in color, name, parental background, education or outlook; 3) Universal health care is a bad thing.

That jackleg preacher with the sketchy financial record? He's like us. The Harvard-educated son of a Kenyan most certainly is not. And besides, many will say, that preacher sure did say a nice prayer over my sick momma when she was in the hospital. Doubt my pessimism? In 2010, at least two Republicans with criminal records were the choice of district voters.

I've said from the start that the Democrats — if they were to be saddled with Obamacare anyway — might as well defend it to the hilt. The facts are on their side about the people it will help.

A late-arriving Democratic campaign initiative highlights, with cold facts, the damaging result of the red political tide in other Southern states. Prisons are being closed. States are reneging on educational adequacy spending. Health services are being slashed. Child care for working parents is eroding. College tuition is increasing by up to 10 percent.

This record is the certain outcome, plus bonanza tax cuts for billionaires, if Republicans gain the Arkansas majority. Factual though it is to say this, it's still a negative message, always hard to prove. The Republicans promise change and better times ahead (sound familiar?). This positive premise is also hard to prove, but it is so much more enticing, even if built on faith and smoke.

Who, after all, is an Arkansas voter most likely to believe? A neo-Confederate who compares Abraham Lincoln with Nazis? A mail-order preacher with an iffy credit record? Or that black man in the White House?

Doyle Webb believes Arkansas voters will pull the lever for a Johnny Reb or a deadbeat over that B. Hussein Obama fellow or anybody affiliated by party with him. I'm afraid he may be right more often than not.


Sign up for the Daily Update email



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

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

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Are you being served?

    These aren't good times for confidence in public servants.

    • Mar 22, 2018
  • Send in the segs

    The state Board of Education last week rejected requests from Camden Fairview, Hope, Lafayette County and Junction City to be exempt from the state law requiring students to be able to freely transfer between school districts.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • Rich get richer

    Arkansas State University heard from a paid consultant last week about ways to become more efficient — make more money, in other words — and perhaps even serve students better.
    • Mar 8, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Redefining candidate quality

    Despite what national party organizations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee say, conventional definitions of candidate quality are not leading to progressive wins in 2018.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trump and Comey

    • Oh, so now it was the Comey release of the e-mails before the election to…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • Ms. Daniels is a female version of Trump. Someone with a valuable talent for making…

    • on April 19, 2018
  • Re: Stormy shaming

    • I do not automatically have contempt for women who have careers built around selling sex…

    • on April 19, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation