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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Battle to the bottom

by John Brummett | October 6, 2021 at 3:07 a.m.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders runs for the Republican gubernatorial nomination with Donald Trump on her side. She vows to protect Arkansas from those who oppose the great one.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is countering with the next best thing, meaning the Lord Almighty. She runs to protect all that God has given Arkansas.

I don't like Rutledge's chances. I know the Lord is omnipotent, but the white rural conservative expanse of Arkansas is what I like to call "Trumpland--starring Sarah Sanders." At least I'm calling it that for an upcoming class I'm leading. I titled it that back in the spring a day after watching the movie "Nomadland."

Yet we must applaud Rutledge's fighting spirit in her new television commercial that aired, like two Sanders commercials before, during Saturday college football programming.

In her new spot, Rutledge invokes God ... well, let me quote the ad in full, since it's only 30 seconds, and you can check my math. I've counted four times.

With a forced smile from a farm field, Rutledge declares: "Arkansas. Some call it a flyover state. We call it God's country. And this is where we do God's work, like ending abortion. That's why I kept Planned Parenthood off the taxpayer dime, making Arkansas the most pro-life state in the nation. For seven years, I've led the fight to protect our God-given freedoms like religious liberty and the Second Amendment. Arkansas is one big small town, and I will use my experience to protect all that God has given us."

Leaving aside the dynamics of the emerging Sanders-Trump versus Rutledge-God primary, Rutledge's ad succeeds on the basic modern Republican requirement of being as full of nonsense as Sanders' one-note campaign about protecting Arkansas from the radical left.

It's entirely debatable whether we do God's work in Arkansas considering that we under-educate our youth, over-burden our poor, ill-serve our health, and divide our races.

It was the governor and legislators who took Planned Parenthood off the taxpayer dime in Arkansas. All Rutledge did was make self-promotional public service announcements with public money for KATV while lawyers on her staff defended the gubernatorial and legislative action.

She has no policy resume. She simply occupies the biggest office and practices the least law at state government's law firm.

Arkansas is hardly the most pro-life state in the nation, considering that Rutledge and Jason Rapert and the rest have managed to let Texas and Mississippi get ahead of us on denying a woman's right to attend to her health and decency by getting an abortion if impregnated through rape or incest.

And religious liberty and the Second Amendment are not God-given rights on Earth, where many inhabitants don't enjoy them.

The Second Amendment is not in the Bible. It's in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.

As one immersed, figuratively and literally, in the Lord's word early in life, I am unable to recall a biblical instance where anyone in the Scriptures carried a semiautomatic, assault-style weapon, much less with the Lord's sanction.

Finally, Arkansas is not one "big small town." It's an interplanetary experience to go from Dermott to Bentonville. Arkansas is Mississippi on the agricultural east, a Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri blend in the northwest corner, Missouri across the northern rim, Oklahoma to the due west, Texas to the southwest, Louisiana on the lower extreme and whatever Little Rock is in between.

Nonetheless, the Sanders-Rutledge battle to the bottom proceeds. I sure do dread it.

But I'd pay good money to watch a debate between their running mates, Trump and the Lord.

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.

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