A reader asked on social media over the weekend for a column of arrows to encapsulate all these madly moving targets.
I replied that I’d oblige on Tuesday, and yet I deliver a day late. I was forced by circumstance to focus Tuesday’s column entirely on the “****hole” business.
The Trumpian news cycle requires flexibility.
Donald Trump — His, so far, is the presidency of a value-added stock market and a devalued culture, of an improved equity position and misplaced moral compass, of happy news in the short term and dire news in the long. The stock market fluctuates, but the culture erodes. Money burns a hole in the pocket, but character hangs around and defines.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton — He’s the son Trump never had.
The news media — See The Post, a new movie. The hard work, the brave pursuit of truth, the standing up to political power, the persistence in the face of political ridicule and economic peril — they’re as prevalent now, and in some cases more daunting now, and at least as important now, as in the early 1970s.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack — Taking the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee is to choose a life of negative numbers, strife and threats of government shutdown in service to personal ego and the burning need to be important. That’s especially the case with one who is humility-depraved … uh, maybe I mean deprived.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson — He’s been around the block. He knows a right-wing threat when he sees her. He’s cutting Medicaid by throwing people off. He’s trimming his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. He’s reminding everyone on Twitter that he ended Medicaid for Planned Parenthood. He’s celebrating that the Trump administration will let him add a work requirement for the Medicaid-expansion population. He’s open-carrying a semiautomatic rifle. Just kidding on that last one. Which is nothing to kid about.
U.S. Rep. French Hill — That’s unless state Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock announced against him since I typed this, in which case you should flip the arrow.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders — I know she’s telling brazen falsehoods daily. I know that no one made her take this apologist’s job for the madman. I know history will treat her poorly. But, I’m telling you, just showing up every day to deny with a straight face whatever fresh evidence of instability the guy tweeted only hours before … it takes some spunk, nerve, guts, toughness. And it turns out to be a good job for one born with dad’s glibness, mom’s scorn and the shoulder-boulder bequeathed by both. The book contract and TV deal with Fox ought to be bountiful. She’ll have her own Ramada Inn-looking house next to daddy’s on the Redneck Riviera soon enough.
National Democrats— They think they can take back the House this year with Trump disdain added to the identity-politics coalition of women, gays, liberals, blacks and other minorities. And they may be right in the short term. But real and lasting growth as a party, producing something self-sustaining rather than wholly dependent on a disastrous Republican presidency, will require some kind of evidence of actual caring about, and clear policies designed to help, white working people.
Oprah — She might be an answer for Democrats. A strong conventional candidate from the political class, capturing the mood and connecting widely, would be infinitely better. But the national Democratic political class is devoid of freshness or talent.
Arkansas Democrats — They won’t be fully competitive again for a generation, but they must start somewhere and are doing so. Their new young chairman, farmer Michael John Gray, understands that they must blend Trump-resistance with new young candidates with new ideas that can connect with white rural conservatives. He’s at work on a set of policy goals designed to widen roads, improve early childhood education and enhance health-care quality and access for salt-of-the-earth country folks who are still enamored of Trump’s populist talk and remain alienated from national Democrats with their cultural liberalism that defies everything the preacher says at church on Sunday.
Chad Morris — He’s still unbeaten as Razorback football coach. He seems less a used-car salesman than sales manager for a new-car dealership. He’s saying these new models will be razor-fast and blow holes in the wind in the left lane with the hammer down. But the proof will be in the driving. Sales managers once touted the Edsel, you know.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.