The Republican candidates for governor have now been asked by this newspaper the simple and defining question of whether the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.
The answers made plain that Trump must withdraw forthwith his endorsement of Sarah Sanders, newly revealed as a TINO (Trumper in Name Only).
He must bestow his blessing instead on a right-wing radio extremist whose name I can't recall and don't want to bother looking up.
Doc Something. Holiday, maybe. No. Watson. No. Washburn. That's it. Doc Washburn.
He was a local right-of-Limbaugh radio blabber until the radio corporation put out a vaccine mandate and he told the woke socialist corporate folks where they could put their vaccine, which was not in his arm.
Now that I think about it, Sanders has said publicly that she, taking her marching orders from Anthony Fauci, got vaccinated. That would suggest that not only is she a TINO, but also a RINO. She may be a science-accepter.
Yes, it is true that Sanders worked faithfully for Trump in the White House and willingly misstated facts for a living to defend his indefensibleness. For that self-sacrifice he lent his mailing list to her $11 million-plus nationwide campaign fundraising so she could buy the Arkansas Governor's Mansion and run it as an outpost command center for his next insurrection.
But, with the money in the bank, we're seeing pretty serious betrayal. I'm beginning to wonder if Sanders would even send our National Guard troops to invade the U.S. Capitol if Trump so commanded.
Trump's position, as you know, is that the election was damned-sure stolen from him and that his own vice president should have singularly voided the states and the Electoral College and kept him in the Oval Office.
He even pondered what Marjorie Taylor Greene called "Marshall Law."
So, on Sunday, the ensuing text appeared in an article in this newspaper summarizing positions of the two candidates in the Republican gubernatorial primary:
"Washburn said there is no question that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.
"'It is obvious the election was stolen,' he said.
"Asked whether she believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, Sanders said, 'I don't think we'll ever know the depths of how much fraud existed. We know there is fraud in every election. How far and how wide it went, I don't think that will be something that will be ever determined.'"
Let me repeat: "I don't think we'll ever know." She said everybody gets cheated.
She did everything but tell Don to get over himself.
So, let me tell you who indeed knows the election was stolen from Trump: Donald Trump. Doc What's-His-Name. My former barber, abandoned in mid-snip.
Mo Brooks in Alabama knows. He even helped Trump rile up those yahoos for the insurrection. But then Brooks told a rally for his Senate race that it's time for Republicans to move on from the 2020 dispute. The crowd booed. Trump withdrew his endorsement, citing betrayal even by one so loyal to him previously.
By that precedent, I don't see how it can remain that Trump endorses in Arkansas the vaccinated "I don't think we'll ever know" and everybody-gets-cheated gubernatorial candidate over her unvaccinated "It is obvious the election was stolen" rival.
What does Trumpism stand for if not Trump alone? What does Sanders stand for if not fealty to her benefactor?
The article gave us a little startling information on that account as well. Asked about critical race theory, Sanders said she'd legislate against it if necessary. If necessary? In other words, she'd wait to act only after some of our children were taught in school that there was an American Civil War in which race figured in.
Asked about banning mention of sexual orientation in early grades, she said she'd legislate against that, again, if necessary. In other words, she'd wait until a kindergartner came home and, when asked by Mommy what she learned today, answered, "I'm a lesbian."
This all blends into Sanders' reported campaign tactic, which is to rant and rave with right-wing rhetoric while a few lobbyist friends spread the word among business insiders that she'll govern with pragmatic competence perhaps more conservatively than her dad and Asa Hutchinson, but in their general style. Thus we get phasing out the income tax as a campaign promise and doing so only "responsibly" when asked by a journalist on the record.
Responsibly? That defies all that Trump stands for.
And Asa Hutchinson? Asa Hutchinson? She'd emulate that? He's the guy who brought lower his comb-over to tell CNN on Sunday that he's possibly going to run for the Republican presidential nomination, even--get this--if Trump seeks it.
Trump and Arkansas Republicans are going to have to decide. Will it be Trump or will it be responsibility? Will it be the TINO-RINO or the heroically unvaccinated radio gabber?
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.