Doyle Webb wishes “good luck” to three legislative candidates who have said slavery was a “blessing in disguise,” all Muslims should be deported, that if slavery were really bad Jesus would have condemned it, and that Abraham Lincoln was a “neurotic Northern war criminal.”
Webb, the chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party, is the first impression of what we Arkansans are likely to see emerge in Little Rock from a win-at-all-costs strategy that has done wonders for the credibility, effectiveness and respect of the U.S. Congress.
What’s at stake is Republican control of the Arkansas legislature for the first time since the Civil War.
Charlie Fuqua, Jon Hubbard and Loy Mauch are the three candidates who are possessed of a version of history and scope of religion that, without even the slightest tinge of hyperbole, reminds of David Koresh, George Wallace and David Duke.
Webb was recently asked during a radio interview if he thought the three “monkey butts” would get elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives. Webb said he did think they would win, and noted that “those candidates have done a good job at working for lower taxes, for job creation, for economic development, better education.”
Most folks who possess a moral compass and are not willing to do anything to win would have stopped talking at this point. Possibly prior to this point. Not Webb. He doubled down.
“They have said some things that are not the position of the Republican Party of Arkansas, but we believe in the freedom of conscience and the freedom of speech. And if they are successful, then we wish them good luck,” Webb said.
You see, Kind Reader, how this works is that if you support lower taxes and job creation and other things Webb approves of, it’s OK to say that slavery couldn’t have been all that bad because Jesus did not condemn it and that there should be a law that allows parents to seek the death of their rebellious child.
Like most self-appointed arbiters of political and societal morality, Webb is a hypocrite.
Webb didn’t care about “freedom of conscience and the freedom of speech” when he and other GOP leaders forced Matt Campbell out of the blogging business. Campbell, an employee of the Arkansas Supreme Court, was blogging on his own time about the incompetence run amok in the office of Secretary of State Mark Martin.
A lack of records on use of state vehicles, payroll records that place office employees in two places at one time and hiring of consultants with financial ties back to a top Martin employee were just a few of the items exposed by Campbell.
The Arkansas GOP pressured Campbell with a flood of FOIA requests and privately hounded Campbell’s employer until Campbell, a young attorney with a young family, quit blogging in May 2011 to protect his career and family.
Want to continue to push your beliefs that all Muslims in the U.S. should be rounded up and deported? Webb wishes you good luck with that.
Want to push your belief that slavery was good because all you ungrateful blacks in the U.S. would be living in poverty in Africa if your ancestors had not been shackled and thrown on a boat? Webb wishes you good luck with that.
Want to teach a Sunday School class and explain that Jesus was probably OK with slavery? Webb wishes you good luck with that.
Webb’s problem is that he’s willing to justify the unjustifiable. Yes, thankfully we live in a country where these guys are protected and may spout pure lunacy. The beauty of freedom of speech is that it allows us to measure lunacy. Webb’s measurement is that legislative control is heavier than decency.
There is also the problem of numbers for the GOP. If it was just one person, well, OK, we all have a crazy aunt in the family. And two people? Well, there are some families with the crazy aunt and her 27 cats, and the cousin in prison.
But three folks talking crazy is a trend. A pattern. A picture.
And for little Doyle Webb, it’s a paint-by-numbers picture. He needs to win 51 seats in the Arkansas House of Representatives and 18 in the Arkansas Senate to be the big swinging Richard. If he has to justify the ramblings of three or 30 idiots, he’ll do it just to put a big trophy in the trophy case.
Coincidentally, we posted on The City Wire a few days ago a Bloomberg opinion piece from Stephen Carter, a professor of law at Yale University. Carter noted the tendency in American politics, on all sides, to win at any cost. He wrote: “Except in time of war, victory isn’t a principle. If we don’t believe this, it’s time to hunker down and stop pretending that the American experiment can succeed.”
The moral “family values” high ground on which Webb and his party will soon gain control is nothing more than a temporary political bubble delivered by President Obama. When the angst of the Arkansas voter is calmed following a Romney victory, Webb’s high ground will become a slippery slope. To be sure, the rising fortunes of Webb and his party have more to do with mistrust of the Democratic Party than trust in the Republican Party.
Growing up in a staunchly Republican household, I had once hoped Arkansas would benefit from a a two-party system driven by robust and responsible political competition in which the leadership was driven by a vision of progress that delivered the best governmental bang for the taxpayer buck.
Looking back on that younger me, all I can think to say is “good luck with that.”