Saturday, August 9, 2008

Nabobs in the Land of Nod

The local Republican Royalty gathered in Rogers last night to show support for their party's presidential nominee. Congressman John Boozman (R-Pinnacle Gated Community) was the highest ranking local politician. Also there were former Governor Mike Huckabee, former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, and former Congressman Asa Hutchinson. Former Senator Tim Hutchinson was a no show.

Even with that stellar lineup of party leaders, they were able to draw only 200 people in target-rich Benton County. This is not a good sign. There are 95,273 registered voters in Benton County, and 35,915 of them voted in the Presidential Primaries last February. John McCain received only 4,585 votes, slightly more than what Barack Obama got (3,542 ) but less than half what Hillary Clinton received (9,505).

Valerie Biendara was there and filed an enthusiastic eye-witness blog report. She said that McCain promised not to raise taxes; she didn't elaborate on whether that meant he would continue the record $482 Billion annual Bush budget deficit or which specific programs he would abolish to get rid of that red ink.

The Morning News noted that McCain said that "pork-barrel" spending from the highway trust fund has to be eliminated, because "there's $9 to $10 billion or more in the last highway bill that's pure pork." This must have come as a disappointment to Highway Commissioner Jonathan Barnett and the Northwest Arkansas Council of Corporations and Wealthy Business Executives who want more pork for a western beltway and a couple of bypasses, to John Boozman who likes to brag about delivering pork even after voting against it, to certain local governments that spend $84,000 on no-bid contracts to hire Washington lobbyists just to get more pork, and to the Springdale Cowbirds who want someone else to pay for a new exit to the Arvest Bankpark. It would come as a surprise to Porky McCain's Arizona constituents, too.

Senator McCain, who turns 72 this month, doesn't always know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites or between al-Qaeda and Iran when on the stump. At private money-collecting events, however, he usually appears composed. There was no mention of it by our local media, but the Los Angeles Times said that McCain "appeared visibly fatigued" at the press conference in Rogers before the exclusive gathering. Then, at the fundraiser, McCain said that he had met with former Governor Huckabee "last night." McCain had been in Ohio the previous evening, and campaign handlers quickly admitted that McCain had misspoke himself. He had met privately with Huckabee there in the hotel at Rogers about an hour earlier and thought it was last night.

It sounds like it was a fun evening for those able to pay $500 for the experience and those who got in free to assure a crowd after ticket sales lagged below expectations.

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