OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: A car dealer knows

Sometimes when I call over to talk with Bubba McCoy at Bubba's Auto Emporium east of here, I begin the conversation by asking, "So, how are things today for the Landers of the Delta?"

Last week I began instead, "So, Bubba, are you going to run for mayor, too, in whatever town that is?"

Bubba replied, "I got a wife who's a known Democrat, which she gave away by sewing masks for everybody in town, and a granddaughter who breezes in from Memphis unannounced in a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. What do you think?"

I said those things ought to commend him for political office. He said I'd plumb lost it and that Sarah Sanders must've pushed me right over the edge.

I admitted she had me strung out and that what I couldn't understand was why everyone else wasn't strung out.

"Oh, she's just doin' what you do to get elected," Bubba said. "Clinton did the same thing."

Yeah, I remember Clinton standing in the Fort Chaffee door and railing against the evil federal government when Jimmy Carter sent Cuban refugees there.

I was being facetious. Clinton couldn't stop it, wouldn't try and didn't think he should. And he lost.

"So, wrong again, Bubba," I said.

"Don't you ever get tired of defending Clinton?" Bubba asked.

"You mean like that time I called him President Buttafuoco and said he should resign the presidency?"

"I guess I was absent that day."

My question about a mayoral race was grounded in the development in Little Rock by which Steve Landers, the auto mogul of TV fame and fortune, is saying he's running for mayor of the city, apparently as a Trumpian tax-cutting and crime-fighting alternative to Frank Scott, who got a rather serious comeuppance last week when his big signature tax plan got rejected 62 percent to 38 percent.

"I'll tell you one gol-darned thing," Bubba said. "A car dealer learns some things about people. And a car dealer knows better than to ask a guy to raise his taxes for a giraffe. I don't care if the giraffe talks and rides a bicycle."

Indeed, one of the ornaments on Scott's Christmas tree was an interactive giraffe exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo. I had a supporter of the mayor's plan tell me that about all he heard for a month from people was that they didn't want to raise taxes for a blankety-blank giraffe.

I'd explain how it was that the mayor believed a giraffe-petting draw to the zoo would invigorate the place and contribute to the broader enhancement of the amenities he envisioned transforming Little Rock. But there's no point still fighting that battle.

What else, I wondered, did a car dealer learn that might apply to a mayoralty?

"The main thing," Bubba said, "is that the buyer sells himself the car. You can tell by the look on his face whether he's going to buy. The only thing you might need to say--and I've said it--is that the vehicle looks like him.

"And," Bubba continued, "I'll tell you how you don't sell him a car. You don't tell him he's stupid for not buying it. And you don't tell him that he doesn't have any choice because the president has made a mandate from on high that he has to buy the car."

Well, Bubba, I said, that's an absurdly false equivalency--a car purchase and government requirements for health and safety such as seat belts, child safety seats, speed limits and covid vaccines.

"I don't want to argue about that," Bubba said. "I got my vaccine. I'll get a booster. It's mandated not by Joe Biden, but by the missus. I'm just telling you that there's bossiness, which doesn't work except at my house, and then there's human nature, which you have got to understand if you want to get anywhere in cars or politics or anything else."

Before hanging up I wanted to know whether Bubba had made out like a bandit with his late-model used vehicles amid the new-car crunch.

"Yeah, but I was slow on the uptick," he said.

"A man and his wife came in here and said they needed transportation but couldn't find a new car and wondered if I had any late-model, low-mileage SUVs. I took 'em to a like-new Jeep Grand Cherokee and they bought it the moment they saw the price. As soon as they left, I raised the price on everything from $1,000 to $3,500, and my inventory is about gone."

Bubba said he wasn't even trying to restock. "I just go online and look at my bank balance. I can't think of anything I would buy that would make happier than that number. I'm all set now for the finest in assisted-living luxury."

He wasn't retiring, was he?

"How would I tell the difference?" he asked. "I'd still come here and sit all day."

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.