Today's Paper Latest stories Most commented Obits Wally Hall October calendar Weather Newsletters Traffic Puzzles/games

How serious a political problem for Republican incumbents in mildly competitive congressional districts is this moral disgrace by which the Trump administration is jerking children away from their detained asylum-seeking parents at the border?

Here’s how serious: French Hill, the 2nd Congressional District’s meek rubber stamp for Alpha Dog Donald Trump, almost said something unflattering about the policy and practice in a local interview on Monday with Talk Business and Politics.

The little dog almost barked a mild objection to the big dog. Little dogs don’t do that every day, or any day. So it’s noteworthy whenever a French poodle works up the nerve for a little yip.

Let’s start with Hill’s quoted comment, after which I’ll interpret it, by which I mean turn nervous mumbo-jumbo into candor.

Hill, the heretofore faithful Trumpian, said, with the italics being mine typographically, but French’s, I submit, in his heart of hearts: “This gets into law issues, which is why we’re proposing a law change on what the requirements are. I think the president’s executive authority has significant discretion to do this for the best outcome for families. So that’s what I’d like to see done. But I do think it’s something with a lot of technical issues around the law, and, again, that’s why I hope to have some of those questions discussed …”

Let me tell you what Hill really meant, seems to me. It goes as follows: “Dadgummit, Donald, and you, too, Jeff Sessions, would you please keep these families together while you’re deciding what to do with them? Let ’em in eventually or send ’em back, I don’t care. Just show me no more crying kids wanting their mommies. It’s in your power. I know that. You know that. But I’m gonna keep saying that it’s complicated under the law — though it isn’t — because what the heck else can I say while y’all are trying to give my Democratic opponent — and he’s not a bad candidate — more ammunition?”

I paraphrase generously only in pursuit of transcendent truth.

What’s happening here is simple and two-fold.

First, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a notorious hard-liner on immigration issues, and Trump adapted Sessions’ hard line as his presidential campaign’s underpinning. Sessions was the first major Washington politician to endorse Trump. Beyond that, Trump has this young right-wing zealot, Stephen Miller, on his White House staff, and Miller fills the president’s otherwise roomy brain with notions that treating these asylum-seekers like criminals and taking from them the children they brought with them for leverage amounts to Trumpism at its base-thrilling most glorious.

Second, a theme is developing. This president first embraced, and Hill voted for, a bill to repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing. That bill would have left people with pre-existing conditions at risk of losing equitable premium protection, depending on what their respective states might do for them. Now this president is separating weeping families, days after calling an ally names and singing the praises of a North Korean monster. The developing theme, thus, is of a Mean States of America, led by Trump and followed blithely by Hill, who is starting to show signs of nervousness as he locksteps the meanness while opposed at home by a nice-seeming young man, Clarke Tucker, who talks about surviving cancer and helping people with their health insurance and how important it is to keep families together.

Trump’s base likes meanness. That’s its very essence. But Hill may be starting to wonder just how overwhelmingly prevalent meanness is in Saline County, and Faulkner, and White. That’s because he’s knows there’s not enough of it for his and Donald’s purposes in the wuss-land known as Pulaski County.

Hill may be in the process of recalibrating whether he wants a referendum in November on meanness. At the least, he may be thinking his alpha dog has pretty much established the meanness and can cool it now on hiking his leg over the 2nd District of Arkansas. He’s sufficiently marked his scent in these parts.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Sponsor Content


You must be signed in to post comments
  • JakeTidmore
    June 20, 2018 at 3:42 a.m.

    A little yappy lap dog who thrives on making noise to impress his owners with his bravery. The 2nd District can do much, much better and with luck shall do so this Fall.
    Gig 'em, John! We may not be able to get rid of the Devil yet but certainly some of his imps can be given the boot.

  • TimberTopper
    June 20, 2018 at 5:41 a.m.

    Another good read John. Of course the haters will be after you in force on this as you have stated the truth about their fearless, bone spurred leader. And we all know the truth is not what they or their leader can deal with.

  • RBear
    June 20, 2018 at 6:29 a.m.

    Good summation, John. I saw Hill's statement yesterday and it was pretty lame. It also shows Hill feels he's in a competitive race or he would have come out a bit stronger supporting Trump. Then again, Hill could actually have a heart amid all that Republican kowtowing. The bottom line is that Hill really doesn't have a clue which way to stand on this issue and is waiting for the leadership to give him talking points. They should come out soon now that the Republican proposals with Trump's wall extortions included have been offered.
    Hill has shown how weak he is on issues and really is just a ceremonial congressman for the 2nd. He's show up at ceremonies, get you passes to the WH, and may even get you a flag from the Capitol. But substantial legislative action from him? Hardly. He usually gets his talking points from the ABA and Wall Street before putting them forth on the Hill.

  • Rightside
    June 20, 2018 at 7:45 a.m.

    If you don't want your family split up don't enter the United States illegally. In a White House press briefing Monday, Nielsen said, "DHS is not separating families legitimately seeking asylum at ports of entry." But she said DHS "will only separate a family if we cannot determine there is a familial relationship, if child is at risk with the parent or legal guardian, or if the parent or legal guardian is referred for prosecution."

    Last month Democrats loved a porn star. This month they are all about family values.
    If you believe abortion is morally okay you should probably sit out the whole separtating children from their parents is cruel debate.

  • TimberTopper
    June 20, 2018 at 7:57 a.m.

    Rightside, if you believe separating children from parents in a case like this you should consider sitting out of life.

  • Jfish
    June 20, 2018 at 8:19 a.m.

    Rightside, that was a low blow and an accurate one.

  • BoudinMan
    June 20, 2018 at 8:23 a.m.

    I called Hill's office recently. One of of the topics I broached was the corruption by Scott Pruitt. I then received a French letter. Hill told me that he was disturbed by actions taken by the EPA, under the Obama administration! No mention of Pruitt and his corruption. You cannot make this stuff up.

  • DoubleBlind
    June 20, 2018 at 8:47 a.m.

    Again, this is the 2nd article in the ARDG today re AR’s congressional delegation’s positions on this topic with no mention of Tom Cotton’s OUTRAGEOUS statements yesterday. On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Cotton said most of the child migrants are NOT the children of the adults; that most were either kidnapped or purchased from human traffickers. Why is no one calling him out on this?!?

  • RBear
    June 20, 2018 at 8:47 a.m.

    Thanks BM. Will keep that little tidbit for the upcoming election. Hill is so disconnected from reality it’s insane. He has been as ineffective a congressman as they come.

  • hah406
    June 20, 2018 at 8:52 a.m.

    Rightside you conveniently ignore the fact that the previous four administrations referred family groups to immigration court under civil proceedings instead of criminal ones. Prosecutorial discretion is a key foundation of the law. This is a problem purely of Trump and Session's making. As for Hill, I called his office asking for a position statement on this yesterday and was told "one would be coming soon, but she couldn't comment on his exact position." Worthless.