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Tuesday, October 04, 2005 

News Alert!! John Brummett on Mike Beebe -- Part III

Why is it that The Truth blog has to point out what the mainstream media should be reporting? Developing.....

Asa scores early; Beebe TKO-ed

Tuesday, Oct 4, 2005

By John Brummett

It's good for Mike Beebe that the governor's race hasn't really started. Otherwise Asa Hutchinson and the Republicans might have been awarded a technical knockout.

Hutchinson's main concern ought to be peaking too early. If the Republicans have even better punches in store for the anointed one, then Democrats probably ought to take another look at Bill Halter.

All Beebe has done so far is raise big bucks that make him vulnerable to ethics questions. Otherwise he hunkers in a bunker, cowed by his job as attorney general.

That office didn't seem nearly so politically imprisoning when Bill Clinton used it to step up to governor. But these are different times. The Republicans are competent now. They're effectively keeping Beebe in the attorney general's box. And they're portraying him as a cozy colleague of the moneyed special business interests. Admittedly, there's a certain typecasting to that.

The constitutional duties of attorney general require Beebe to defend an often indefensible state Legislature, such as on school funding and the petty and irresponsible spending of surplus money for local pork. They require him to stand by formal opinions issued by his staff that constrain his ability to exploit issues.

Paramount among those is the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing in some instances the use of eminent domain to take private property for nonpublic purposes. Beebe must honor his office's perfectly reasonable formal opinion that the state Constitution exalts private property rights above all others and therefore renders moot any threatening implications for private property in Arkansas.

But Hutchinson, quite possibly the best and smartest and most palatable of the far-right Arkansas Republicans, is telling anyone who'll listen that there are constitutional gray areas and a couple of credible threats to private property in Arkansas. He vows he won't rely passively on an arguable constitutional interpretation, but move aggressively as governor to enact legislation to keep greedy developers from gobbling up our land and our homes.

Meanwhile he has seized the education issue, criticizing the Legislature's underfunding of schools. Hutchinson also has attacked pork. Beebe's office must defend both those outrages in court.

A Democrat who finds himself on the short end of greedy developer rhetoric to a Republican is a rare Democrat indeed. Ditto a Democrat who finds himself on the short end of education rhetoric. Ditto again one who finds himself on the short end of responsible spending rhetoric.

Beebe's calling card - that he is a Democrat with business support, so much so that he could a raise a million dollars in a month - has been turned against him. This probably isn't a serious problem, since the money will allow him to buy advertising later changing the subject, maybe to Hutchinson's brazen cashing in on his service in the federal Department of Homeland Security.

But Republicans scored ethical points last week. They pointed out the tens of thousands Beebe has taken for his gubernatorial campaign from regulated utilities even as the office of attorney general often intervenes in supposed behalf of ratepayers in regulatory matters.

A Democrat who finds himself on the short end of pro-consumer rhetoric to a Republican is a rare Democrat indeed.

Less relevant are these right-wing Web logs set up by Republican attack dogs to augment the Hutchinson campaign and beat up Beebe. Only about a dozen of us are reading those, probably. They're effective only if they get cited in the mainstream media. And I seem to have just cited them.

One of these blogs has posted a newspaper column from 1999 that chastised Beebe, then the leader of the state Senate, for golfing in Tulsa with Southwestern Bell's lobbyist shortly after the Legislature passed telephone deregulation legislation favored by Southwestern Bell. The column was unimpressed that Beebe, unlike a half-dozen other Senate colleagues on the trip, insisted on paying his own way. It said he shouldn't have engaged in the fraternization in the first place, because of the appearances.

Modesty prevents me from saying what a fine column that was.

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