Tuesday, May 21, 2024

AR-Sen: White House Giving Lincoln The Silent Treatment?

The Huffington Post thinks so.

The White House is still formally supporting Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s re-election bid as the Arkansas Democratic primary approaches its runoff vote on Tuesday. But over the past few weeks, as the incumbent senator’s prospects for holding onto the seat have became more unsettled, the president and his team have been noticeably silent about the race.

The president’s political shop can read both polls and tea leaves [and t]he evidence [that the White House is distancing itself from Lincoln] is obvious. Save a perfunctory, donate-to-Blanche-email signed on June 2 by Vice President Joseph Biden, the type of formal campaigning that team Obama rolled out prior to the first vote (with radio ads and robocalls) has been completely non-existent.

“I haven’t seen or heard of anything,” said a source working on the ground in Arkansas. “She’s using him in ads, etc., but we haven’t seen anything from the White House itself.”

That the Obama administration is not being vocal in their support of Lincoln is unquestionable, really.  What struck me about the article was not the idea that the President is backing off in his support of Lincoln, however, but the point at the end of the article that “[recent p]olling shows [Bill] Halter better positioned against [John] Boozman” than Lincoln.  I’m glad to see national media picking up on such an obvious conclusion.

Now, could someone please share that info with Pat Lynch and spare us any more columns like today’s in the Dem-Gaz (subscription only)?

Rather than look at pesky things like “polling” and “data,” Lynch looks at the fact that no one seems to have a deep-seated hatred for John Boozman and declares that

[w]hen we consider a Boozman-Halter contest, the vision of an enormous, humiliating landslide comes immediately to mind. In this context, “Bill Halter” and “yard dog” are synonymous. Halter will be beaten, and badly.

According to Lynch, this beatdown at the hands of the non-hated Boozman is inevitable because

[e]xcept for his instrumental role in organizing a gambling operation of questionable value, Halter has no public record. His connections with huge sums of outside money from organized labor and the political left make him vulnerable to the withering attacks of a crisp and well-financed Boozman juggernaut.

The Boozman media people need only decide if they will use theme music from “Jaws” or “Friday the 13th” in their attack advertising. It will be ugly and devastating. The general theme will be that Halter is the tool of national organized labor and an enemy of regular folks.

When outsiders roll into town flashing around big hunks of money, as Halter’s union supporters have done, that unchecked flamboyance is bound to leave a bad taste. Organized labor has cast itself as wealthy, powerful and ruthless. That’s no different from big business.

“Organizing a gambling operation of questionable value?”  Really, Pat?  I know that this is on the opinion page and that bias certainly has a home on those pages, but come on.  If you are trying to make the case that the lottery is Halter’s only accomplishment, that’s fine, but you know as well as I do that “gambling operation” and “lottery,” while technically similar, do not really mean the same thing.

As for “questionable value,” tell that to the kids who are getting college scholarships this year.  And, please, spare me the “it takes money from people who can’t afford” drivel.  Until you can show that (a) that money would not have been spent on some other form of diversion or entertainment and would have, instead, been put to a higher and better use, and (b) Arkansas as a whole somehow does not benefit from keeping dollars that would have been spent on lotteries in other states by residents of Northwest Arkansas, Texarkana, West Memphis, and any other town within range of the state line, your argument is flawed.

Lincoln’s record leaves a lot to be desired, but at least she has a record. We know that she is cozy with big business, but we also observe that she is flexible. She is a primary architect of legislation to control banking investment in derivatives.

Wow.  Halter’s lottery is “a gambling operation of questionable value,” but Lincoln’s derivatives proposal that, in addition to being flawed from a macroecon standpoint, is almost certainly going to be stripped from the bill as soon as this election is over is somehow to her credit?  Halter’s lottery keeps money from leaving the state and provides scholarships for college students; Lincoln’s derivatives bill, if passed, would do nothing to solve the problems with derivatives and would possibly make the next economic crisis even worse.  Your definition of “questionable value” must differ from mine.

Considering the Democratic candidates for Senate, Lincoln is the only one who enjoys even the slightest chance of winning. Boozman is a Republican, so we know what to expect if he is elected. Should he triumph in November, he will be there for a very long time.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it: the two senate seats from this state have been Republican for a grand total of one term (Tim Hutchinson, 1997-2003) since 1879.  Even if Boozman wins in November, which is far from a sure thing, why would one assume that he will beat the odds and be there for a “very long time?”  There is nothing to support that idea.  Of course, there’s nothing to support the idea that Lincoln has better odds against Boozman than Halter, either, so maybe we should just take this entire thing with a massive dose of salt (and a pinch of common sense).

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