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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Meanwhile in Trumpland ...

by John Brummett | April 14, 2021 at 3:14 a.m.

That was an interesting Thursday and Friday last week in Trumpland, previously known as Arkansas.

The story begins with a big issue that penetrated the national news cycle.

Our Legislature's determination to bully transgender children from multiple directions for the pure heck of it got temporarily derailed at least in one direction by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. He's a Republican of a near-extinct species traceable to Ronald Reagan and still possessed occasionally of reason and compassion.

Hutchinson had issued a studied veto of a bill banning transgender medical services for youth, saying the measure put the state between a child and its parents and doctor and would forcibly and dangerously discontinue hormone therapies mid-treatment.

The veto got promptly overridden, of course, because this is 2021 in Arkansas.

Fox News, or a prime-time host there, got upset with Asa. Government restraint on social issues is not what modern-day Republicans are supposed to be about. They're about big-government imposition of intolerant fundamentalist "religious" views, often expressed in a bigoted name-calling form.

Speaking of Donald Trump, the ought-to-be-disgraced former Republican president hauled off on Thursday and issued a statement attacking Hutchinson for being weak and a supposed Republican in name only--a RINO--and telling him "bye-bye."

Trump told Arkansas not to worry because Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his former propagandist who now drops in from time to time on a professed home base in the state, was running for governor to save the day.

The Arkansas Republican Party issued a statement saying, come on, now, Asa is a sure enough Republican. The party observed that Arkansas now has joint Democratic-Republican primaries largely because of Asa's work as party co-chairman.

So, to take stock: We had Trump attacking Asa and the state GOP backing Asa and Trump saying that Sanders, the presumptive next Republican nominee for governor in 2022, would save Arkansas from the likes of Asa.

Amid that, this fine newspaper asked Sanders on Thursday to take, at long last, a position on an Arkansas issue.

She'd been all over the nation attending fundraisers, talking of Arkansas only as a convenient and incidental place for the Trumpian narrative that she'll resist the looming hordes of woke radical socialists thought soon to be invading across the Missouri border under the fiery command of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This newspaper asked Sanders what her position was on this bill that Asa vetoed and on this dustup between Asa, her state party and the former president for whom she was once employed as propagandist.

She texted to say she didn't have anything to say on any personal differences between others and that she believed in small government. But she said that sometimes government must protect children and that, therefore, she supported the bill that Hutchinson vetoed.

So there we had it: Sarah took a position on an actual Arkansas issue, declaring that the way to protect Arkansas children is to put this state Legislature, instead of parents and doctors, in charge of the children's health care.

Remember that all of that happened on Thursday. And then, on Friday evening, Sarah was hosted by Trump in Florida at a fundraiser for her governor's race in Arkansas.

She bragged of that Saturday morning in a tweet.

So, let's take stock again: We had a big brouhaha in Arkansas about a piece of state legislation. Our governor handled it. Our state Legislature handled him. Trump stuck his nose into it, and the state Republican Party defended Asa, then Sarah came in Thursday to side with Trump, perhaps because he was going to be raising money standing beside her Friday night in Florida to support her campaign to replace Asa as governor of the aforementioned place--Arkansas, wasn't it?

Someone once wrote that Sanders' run for governorship, a polling juggernaut and seemingly certain winner, was all about establishing our state as a Trump outpost for the next insurrection should he run again and get beat fair and square.

I introduce as circumstantial evidence the stock taken above on developments Thursday and Friday.

"Trumpland" might be a movie someday. Francis McDormand could star as outpost commander Sarah Sanders. It would be set in a place formerly known as Arkansas.

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


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