Opinion: Doug Thompson and Daddy Warbucks

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How will Huck fare in the national spotlight?

Developer Wars Begin…

Rendering unto Caesar
By Doug Thompson

Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister who believes in divine creation, has just entered the most Darwinian political process in the world.
The chief consequence of Huckabee’s decision to run for president is that U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor will have nothing to worry about in 2008. Huckabee would have to start now to undermine Pryor. It would be an uphill battle then. Even if Huckabee’s presidential campaign folds quickly, it will drink up his fundraising support and momentum.
Twelve years ago, Mike Huckabee was elected lieutenant governor of Arkansas in a low-profile special election. He became governor when his predecessor resigned. Despite some impressive re-election margins, that special election for a largely ceremonial office remains the only time Huckabee has ever won an election without being an incumbent.
Huckabee leaves behind a highly credible record of accomplishment as governor. He claims he won it over continuous opposition from a Democratic Legislature. The truth is that Huckabee built a consensus with conservative Democrats every time somebody proposed a good idea – not necessarily or even usually his idea.
The former governor also enjoyed considerable behind-the-scenes support from the de facto Chief Operating Officer of state government throughout most of Huckabee’s term: state Sen. Mike Beebe, D-Searcy. Beebe’s sailing into the governor’s mansion was accompanied by the open and unabashed enthusiasm of many people in state government. This was no accident.
Now, as for the presidential campaign: Nobody ever called Huckabee “Slick Mikey.” Bill Clinton, the last Arkansas governor to become president, was a highly evolved political animal. Huckabee is totally unsuited by temperament and experience to run for president.
For instance, suppose the New York Times runs a story Huckabee doesn’t like. I doubt the paper’s editorial section will give him a front-of-the-section, unchallenged column to trash the reporter who did the story and, by implication, the editor who approved it and the newspaper that put it in the front page. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette did this last Sunday in what is undoubtedly the most stunning disregard of a newspaper’s own credibility I’ve seen since I started reporting for a living in 1981. There wasn’t even a “We stand by our story” in italics anywhere.
John Robert Starr is ranting in his grave.
“Sooner or later, he will have a fit on camera,” as a newsroom comrade said regarding Huckabee.
Righteous indignation doesn’t play well in New Hampshire. Those folks have seen those sorts of tricks before.
Voters have had all the bad temper, the righteous indignation and the refusal to accept blame they can stand after more than six years with President Bush.
Huckabee doesn’t have to worry about a hostile, liberal press. He has to worry about what fellow Republican candidates will do to him.
Republicans are in trouble and they know it. They fear Hillary Clinton like plague and death, too. Their top campaign consultants are past masters at finding things in people’s records and making a liability out of it. They’re going to take one look at things like Wayne DuMond and know what it means. It means Willy Horton. It means that, as much as he tries to hide behind the parole board, Huckabee let somebody out of jail who then went out and killed somebody.
Huckabee’s about to pay for all those gifts he’s received over the years too.
Meanwhile, over at the shooting war in Iraq, I decided to check the very conservative website “Power Line” at http://powerlineblog.com/ and see what undeniably conservative folks thought of the president’s proposed surge.
Ah, how I love cut and paste: “Hugh Hewitt has posted poll numbers on his (and [Dean Barnett’s]) blog. They show that one-third of Republicans and a little less than one-fourth of conservative Republicans oppose the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.”
The war on the ground continues to depend on the Battle of Washington, and there was a new development on that front on Monday. A Newsweek poll says that 64 percent of Americans believe that Congress has not been assertive enough “in challenging the Bush Administration’s conduct of the war.” The nationwide poll questioned 1,003 people and claims a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
So much for the “there’s only one commander-in-chief” principle.
Daddy Warbucks
Developer wars begin in county
Well, as Daddy W. predicted, it didn’t take long for the lawsuits to fly on developments going on outside the city limits in Washington County. The first is now a two-pronged lawsuit filed over property on Finger Road, in Fayetteville’s designated growth area. The developer, a former auto body man who once tried his hand at the bar and restaurant business, Tracy Hoskins, has thumbed his nose at both the county legal system and local folks. In a bizarre TV interview, Hoskins said his crews were just moving around a lot of brush and clearing the lots, but nothing was yet planned for the property. Yea, right. First a group of nearby residents filed a lawsuit, halting the development and now the county has joined by also filing a lawsuit against Hoskins. And more and more trees will be used as paper in this battle. There’s more to come…Ah, rural living.

A scorned woman…
We all know the phrase about the scorn and the fury and this week a fine example has arisen. Julie Roehm, the much touted turn-around ad executive who was charmed by Wal-Mart into entering their corporate lair, only to be summarily dismissed like a deli clerk, has file a lawsuit against the world’s largest retailer over the dismissal. The suit was filed in Detroit, Mich.—union city. Stay tuned.

Watch them Grow
Baldor, the Fort Smith based, small engine manufacturer is set for explosive growth with its recent acquisition of Power Systems, a division of Rockwell Automation. The stock price of Baldor, a couple of years ago was $15-$18. It is now over 35 bucks a share.

Get on the Plane
Looks like folks have done that at XNA, even in a “down” air travel year. XNA has show modest growth while Little Rock’s National has dropped some 2.2 percent. Since 1999 XNA has seen a 78 percent increase in air travelers, while Little Rock, has remained stagnant.

Junk Chicken
Moody’s, the big Wall Street ratings house has declared Pilgrim’s Pride – the new No. 1 chicken processor – junk bond status. That’s bad. While the stock of all the major protein companies are in peril. A junk ratings is bad. Really bad.

Another Wet One?
Daddy W has heard rumblings of an upcoming move to vote another Washington County township “wet” – in the Elkins area. While there have been lots of new residents move into that area, voting the township “wet” just because some new pizza places want to serve beer might be a stretch.

Daddy Warbucks reports on the local business scene. Send comments and tips to daddyw@freeweekly.com.

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