Leader Blues

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

WEDNESDAY EDITORIAL >> Rewriting history

Guilt by association is a slimy tactic whether it is undertaken in the judicial or political system. Its employers should not be allowed to get away with it.

But the Republican Party and Gov. Huckabee got away with a nasty little gambit last week when they suggested that Attorney General Mike Beebe was a crony of former state Sen. Nick Wilson, with whom he served in the Senate for a couple of decades. Their implication was that a Beebe administration would smile on corruption.

Wilson, you will remember, pled guilty in federal district court six years ago to a conspiracy to skim money from state programs that he had a hand in creating.

Huckabee said that electing Asa Hutchinson as governor instead of Democrat Beebe would prevent a return to that kind of government. The Republican Party joined the attack, suggesting that Beebe and Wilson were cronies in the Senate. Beebe denied it, and Sunday the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the party’s house organ, devoted a long editorial to rebutting Beebe’s denial that he was a crony of Wilson. It cited as its evidence a previous Democrat Gazette editorial.

The trouble is that both editorials, presumably written by the same uninformed editorialist, were flat wrong, as every state senator who served the past two decades and every legislative employee, reporter and lobbyist who hung around the Senate knows. Their enmity was legendary. A faction led by Beebe sharply curtailed Wilson’s power in the Senate and the two men held each other in thinly concealed contempt. Wilson derisively referred to Beebe and his sidekick, Sen. Morril Harriman of Van Buren, as “the golfers.”

Since Hutchinson and Huckabee have become so intimate, what if Beebe and his party were to suggest that if Hutchinson got elected he could be counted on to try to turn convicted rapists like Wayne Dumond loose so that they could murder? You can see how this thing could get out of hand.