Times-Herald (Vallejo)

The utter nonsense of Sanders’ ‘leadership’

- You can email Arkansas Times columnist Lyons at eugenelyon­s2@yahoo.com.

If history is any guide, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ bizarre “rebuttal” to a presidenti­al speech she hadn’t heard will be the high point of her political career. (Her address was prerecorde­d.) Contrary to many, including Sanders herself, voters in this state have little enthusiasm for living in a fundamenta­list theocracy. They know these Bible-beaters all too well.

Sanders came off as a selfintoxi­cated fanatic, like a second-string preacher at the kind of suburban fundamenta­list church that has auditorium seating and multiple video screens. Her eyes had that familiar gleam; everybody who disagrees with her is “of the devil.”

For as long as I’ve lived in Arkansas — that is, since Gov. Dale Bumpers liberated the state from the segregatio­nist Orval Faubus in the early ’70s — right-wing theocrats have made most of the noise in statewide politics but lost most of the elections. That would include Sanders’ father, Mike Huckabee, an affable Baptist preacher who plays bass guitar in a band that performs Rolling Stones covers.

The elder Huckabee campaigned and governed as a relative moderate. His 1997 speech commemorat­ing the 40th anniversar­y of Little Rock Central High School’s integratio­n through the good offices of the 101st Airborne put even President Bill Clinton in the shade. Later on, he became a TV miracle cure peddler and hard-core Trumper after learning where the money is.

Oddly, Sarah Sanders’ rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union never mentioned her personal benefactor, Donald Trump. Instead, as Trump supporters bitterly observed, it was all Ron DeSantis-style culture war pronouncem­ents.

What did they expect? As White House press secretary, Sanders told the national press that she’d gotten scores of congratula­tory calls from FBI agents celebratin­g President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Asked under oath by independen­t counsel Robert Mueller, she admitted those calls were imaginary. “A slip of the tongue,” she called it.

You can’t count on loyalty from a person like that.

Rebutting Biden, who spoke mostly about jobs, economic growth, Social Security and Medicare, Sanders accused him of surrenderi­ng his presidency to a “woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is.” Do what?

“Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace,” Sanders said, “but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight. Every day, we are told we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols, all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is — your freedom of speech. That’s not normal.

It’s crazy, and it’s wrong.”

Which flags and false idols would those be? I wonder. She never did say. Preaching to the converted, she apparently didn’t think she needed to.

Flags with big red Razorback Hogs are popular here on game days, along with bronze statues of rampant swine. How about them Hogs? as we say.

Otherwise, I have no earthly idea. You?

In almost the next breath, our champion of free speech boasted about issuing executive orders forbidding the teaching of “CRT” in the state of Arkansas and banning the word “Latinx” from public documents. For the initiated — that is, dedicated Fox News fans — the acronym refers to critical race theory, a professori­al approach to understand­ing slavery and racial segregatio­n.

Most Americans likely had no idea what she was on about.

Never mind that there’s no evidence of CRT being taught in Arkansas schools. How banning it comports with protecting First Amendment freedoms, Sanders didn’t say. As I have commented previously, she’s the kind of idealogue who invokes “the word ‘freedom’ to mean people who disagree with her need to shut up, or else.”

How, then, to deal with Arkansas’ complicate­d racial history: slavery, Civil War, Jim Crow, lynchings and massacres? Would it be permissibl­e for a teacher to explain the complex legacy of Sanders’ own alma mater, Little Rock Central High, by playing a video of her father’s excellent speech? Or President Clinton’s?

Or would those constitute CRT?

How about Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, a masterpiec­e of American oratory as significan­t as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address?

More than a bit smugly, Gov. Sanders added that “the dividing line in America is no longer between right or left — the choice is between normal and crazy.”

Within 24 hours of Biden’s State of the Union and Sanders’ prefabrica­ted rejoinder, the Arkansas legislatur­e got busy passing legislatio­n to free up

$60 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds as a lifeline to struggling rural hospitals in jeopardy of closure. Almost needless to say, it was a Biden White House initiative. The Arkansas vote was 95-1.

I’m confident of two things: Sanders will sign the bill, and she won’t thank President

Biden. Normal politics, Arkansas style.

Sanders came off as a selfintoxi­cated fanatic, like a second-string preacher with a familiar gleam. Disagree, and you’re ‘of the devil.’

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