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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Hyperbole R Us

by John Brummett | September 15, 2022 at 3:00 a.m.

Trumpism may be in mild decline, but its outlook remains robust in a few places.

There is Donald Trump's mind, his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey, the Huckabee family and Arkansas state government beginning next year unless righteous magic strikes the state's electorate.

All of that got showcased Friday night at the aforementioned golf club where they apparently were celebrating a Hyperbole and Bloviation Festival.

Perhaps it's an annual event. Or maybe it occurs daily among those people and at that location.

The prospective First Parents of Arkansas--Mike and Janet Huckabee--were guests of Trump at the Jersey club. The three of them dropped in on a conservative women's group holding a fundraiser opposing trafficking of children and women.

A woman introduced Trump to the adoring gathering as "45 and 46," presumably meaning he was re-elected in 2020. Then they played the "Rocky" theme and Trump pumped a fist and danced a 16th of a single body-turn.

Then Trump went on a rant about Mitch McConnell, "what a waste," and Bill Barr, "no guts" because "all he wanted to do was eat," and the United States, "going to hell," and the American Justice Department, "a disgrace."

Trump only got around to talking about the charitable purpose of the event after he was reminded of it when he presented Huckabee for a testimonial--to Trump.

Huckabee is a splendid performer with a gift of gab suitable for any occasion of hyperbole and bloviation. And it was Huckabee who remembered the evening's apparently incidental charitable purpose.

Otherwise, he called Trump "the greatest president" and made one of those Jesus-appropriating preacher jokes he favors, which was that he was mindful that, if Trump had invited Jesus, the Lord would have said "blessed are the brief for they shall be re-invited."

And it seems clear Huckabee wants to be re-invited by Trump. The Lord can speak for himself.

Somewhere amid all this carrying-on, Trump told the adoring women that Arkansas might steal the governorship from the wonderful Huckabee daughter Sarah.

Remember the key thing. It was Trump talking. So the words had no meaning.

Trump told the audience that he loved the Huckabees, Mike and Janet, because they were stand-up folks, which is what Trump says of the few people left who stroke his ego with the vigor he appreciates.

He said their heroic daughter, his devoted former official falsifier, was going to be a great governor for Arkansas. Then he acknowledged there was the formality of an election in November and it was possible that they'd do to Sarah what was done to him--that a box of a million votes would be found by Arkansas election officials at 3:02 a.m. that would mysteriously provide a 100-vote margin to Sarah's opponent.

Trump didn't mean that for a second. He merely saw an opportunity to make the moment about the thing he believes all moments should be about ... himself.

He was slandering Arkansas playfully so that he could continue to talk about the injustice he falsely claims was done to him.

And, to be absolutely clear, he closed his riff on Arkansas with the statement that of course that wasn't really going to happen. He knows he keeps Arkansas in his hip pocket, and that it will be so when nothing else is left in that pocket.

Arkansas was Trump-y before Trump. Tommy Robinson--talking tall and chaining county jail inmates to a fence at the state prison--was just practice. And Huckabee was calling Arkansas a "banana republic" long before Trump was saying that of the country.

In both instances, the complaint mostly came down to the fact that too many people were getting to vote, particularly poor or Black people.

It was late in the governor's race of 2002 and Huckabee appeared to be in the process of staving off the spirited challenge of Jimmie Lou Fisher. But, in his hyperbolic element doing a gig on the Don Imus national radio show, he expressed alarm that Arkansas was behaving as a "banana republic."

What had him upset was that, in Jefferson County, which is heavily Democratic, they'd opened early voting on a Sunday afternoon and predominately Black churches had carried congregants in buses to vote.

Whether Huckabee would have seen a banana republic in buses run from the First Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, where he'd been pastor ... my answering that with a resounding "no" would be entirely speculative and moot.

The race may have tightened a little after that, though not because of Pine Bluff churches but because people resented their governor calling them a banana republic in national media. The state still had a little pride then.

A banana republic would stuff ballots or purge votes or invent voters--things Trump alleged nationally two decades later without evidence--not transport registered church-going ones to exercise their right to vote.

There's not a lot in common between Arkansas and New Jersey except for this one pretty big thing, which is the Huckabee-Trump Bridge, also known as the Pine Bluff-Bedminster Expressway.


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



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