Leader Blues

Saturday, November 04, 2006

EDITORIALS>>It’s Marion Berry again

U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, who represents the First District, is the only character in Arkansas’ staid congressional delegation. His cornpone diction and colorful terms embarrass a few people who think our agents in the marble halls should be men of greater sophistication.

But Berry is about right on the urbanity scale. He is tough, outspoken and he fights for his district’s peculiar interests, especially farmers.

He has distinguished himself in the losing fight to scale back the power of the drug manufacturers in setting national health policy, most pointedly in the drafting of the Medicare prescription-drug program.

Arkansas families will be better served if the Democrats win a majority in both houses next week and Medicare can be overhauled. If that happens, Berry will be one of the architects, and that is good.

In this election, Berry has his most energetic opponent since his first race, Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh.

The mayor gave the congressman a good fight in their lone debate last week, but we were disappointed with his sportsmanship. He attacked Berry for getting personal in debates on the House floor, mentioning a particularly raucous debate on the budget when Berry referred to a redheaded young Republican congressman from Florida as a “Howdy Doody-looking nimrod,” to the apparent delight of both sides of the aisle. The characterization made national news.

Stumbaugh thought Berry had crossed the line. Then he charged that Berry was a public drunk and womanizer. It was not Stubby’s finest hour.

Berry has raised more than $1 million — about 15 times as much as Stubby, who was pushed into the race by national Repub-licans. They’ve given him $3,000, a pittance.

Marion Berry has earned another term.