Dear Sarah …

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - John Brum­mett

This open let­ter goes to the new global celebrity from Arkansas. Her name is Sarah Huck­abee San­ders.

She is a for­mer first daugh­ter of the state and the ap­ple of Mike’s and Janet’s eyes. Now she is the sac­ri­fi­cial first line of fu­tile ra­tio­nal­iza­tion for a mad­man pres­i­dent.

Pres­i­den­tial press sec­re­tary is a job that pays $176,640 a year to stand be­fore the cam­eras and mi­cro­phones of the world and ab­sorb the daily in­qui­si­tion of the nat­u­rally sus­pi­cious and of­ten hos­tile crea­tures of the ma­jor me­dia.

It’s a chal­leng­ing job nor­mally. But Huck­abee’s as­sign­ment is to rep­re­sent un­prece­dented sense­less­ness. It’s to en­ter a vor­tex daily to fash­ion against all odds some sem­blance of ac­cept­abil­ity from what­ever her boss might have trans­ferred from his mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal dis­or­der to his Twit­ter feed that morn­ing.

As an old ac­quain­tance and ad­mirer, once asked by her fa­ther why I liked her but not him, I reach out to her now.

Dear Sarah, if I may: I well re­call my first ex­po­sure to your con­sid­er­able po­lit­i­cal skill.

In the first half of 2010, I ven­tured to watch a de­bate at the Bowen Law School in Lit­tle Rock of Repub­li­can pri­mary op­po­nents seek­ing the U.S. Se­nate nom­i­na­tion. You were cam­paign man­ager for then U.S. Rep. John Booz­man, and you were rep­re­sent­ing him in his ab­sence.

You out­classed those can­di­dates in a way that your can­di­date, in his bland meek­ness and chronic timid­ity, couldn’t pos­si­bly.

Your com­bat­ive and sar­cas­tic edge—which came from a dou­ble whammy of genes—gave you the per­fect dis­mis­sive tone as you ridiculed their as­ser­tions that your man, the de­ci­sive front-run­ner, had gone Wash­ing­ton on ev­ery­body as a con­gress­man and was out of touch.

Give you a big old break, you said. There’s no­body more pure-dee Arkansas than the slow-talk­ing, non-as­sum­ing and ut­terly de­cent reg­u­lar-Joe you were rep­re­sent­ing.

You don’t get more real and ev­ery­day than John Booz­man, you said.

What made your pre­sen­ta­tion pow­er­ful was its pro­found truth. Say what you will of Booz­man. His re­cent representational mal­prac­tice as a U.S. se­na­tor on the is­sue of health care has had some of us say­ing a lot, and not nicely. But he is in­deed un­af­fected. He is in­deed de­cent. And he is con­sum­mately real and ev­ery­day.

There was BS to be called that night, and you called it, Sarah, and did it well. You were al­most as glib as dad and al­most as dis­dain­ful as mom.

But, alas, what makes your world­stage per­for­mances so flat th­ese days is your trans­fer to the south of the BS line.

You clearly can well-de­fend a de­serv­ing politi­cian. But no one could es­cape un­scathed the predica­ments into which Don­ald Trump abu­sively places you.

It’s be­neath you and the po­lit­i­cal skills you once ex­er­cised to traipse out daily, quite prob­a­bly un­der or­ders, to praise him for hir­ing work­ing women like your­self or read let­ters from chil­dren flat­ter­ing him. A one-time cam­paign man­ager for a U.S. se­na­tor finds her­self de­moted when she pro­pa­gan­dizes for a self-ob­sessed pres­i­dent.

I un­der­stand Trump’s ap­peal to you, and that of your new job.

You come with a nat­u­ral chip on your shoul­der, in­her­ited from both your par­ents. You grew up dis­dain­ing the Arkansas me­dia—me, for ex­am­ple, per­haps es­pe­cially—for ridi­cul­ing your fam­ily.

You be­lieve the main­stream me­dia’s norms are bi­ased and hyp­o­crit­i­cally lib­eral. You en­joy that Trump has turned those norms on the main­stream me­dia’s head.

Be­ing com­mit­ted to the con­ser­va­tive cause, you leapt at the chance to do this job. A ris­ing po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant could not pos­si­bly find a more promi­nent gig.

I’ve ex­pressed sym­pa­thy for your now-daily plight. For that, I’ve been crit­i­cized by peo­ple say­ing I ap­pear to be pa­tron­iz­ing a lit­tle lady. They say no one made you take th­ese 176,640 pieces of sil­ver.

Per­haps they are right. But I can’t help think­ing—in­deed know­ing—that you are bet­ter than what you are do­ing.

The com­pelling vigor with which you de­fended Booz­man is lost when you’re told to say that Trump was ad­dress­ing mil­i­tary readi­ness and costs, which he as­suredly wasn’t, when he got a wild hair and de­cided in his ego­ma­ni­a­cal frus­tra­tion to throw some mus­cle around and kick trans­gen­der per­sons out of the mil­i­tary.

The com­pelling vigor with which you de­fended Booz­man is lost again when you’re told to say that it’s not un­usual for a boss to ridicule pub­licly a ma­jor deputy but keep the em­ployee dan­gling on the job.

What you need, Sarah, is to re­store to your life more Booz­man—more pure-dee Arkansas—and to ex­tri­cate your­self from the orbit of what­ever alien and an­gry galaxy has in­fected you, not to men­tion all of us, with Trump.

I think you’d be hap­pier and more at home back on the north side of BS and de­cency.

Come home to Arkansas and con­sult some Repub­li­can cam­paigns. French Hill looks like he may need some help.

John Brum­mett, whose col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly in the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette, was in­ducted into the Arkansas Writ­ers’ Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at jbrum­mett@arkansason­line.com. Read his @john­brum­mett Twit­ter feed.

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