Saturday, September 16, 2006

EDITORIALS>>Blaming Daniels

The name or political party of the Arkansas secretary of state has never mattered much to us because his or her work is ministerial and you merely hope that whoever wins the office hires competent people to keep all the files straight.

The secretary of state is Arkansas’ official record keeper. We frankly never expected a lot from Charlie Daniels, the current secretary of state, and he has not disappointed.

But we should expect a decent level of honesty and frankness of the officeholder, and Daniels’ opponent, the Baptist preacher Jim Lagrone, seems now to have failed even that faint test.

We had held out hope for Lagrone. He seemed bright enough, but when the campaign got going we began to see him in a different light.

Since the secretary of state keeps election records and Arkansas has had some sloppy elections, Rev. Lagrone divined that he might score points by blaming Daniels.

And what better way to do it than by suggesting that Daniels was dishonoring our fighting men and women as well?

Lagrone charged that his son, while fighting in Iraq in 2004, got his absentee ballot in the mail, voted and returned it but that his son’s ballot did not reach the Saline County clerk’s office in time or else for some other reason it did not get counted. He blamed Daniels for being callous to the needs of brave soldiers to participate in the democracy they were dodging bullets and roadside bombs to preserve.

It turned out that Daniels went out of his way to make arrangements for soldiers in Iraq to get ballots, according to the military officer responsible, but that is beside the point.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed the other day that Lagrone’s son was not in Iraq but at a military post in Mississippi when he received and returned his ballot.

Lagrone was evasive at first but finally admitted that his son was not in Iraq then.

But he blamed the error on his press aide. Lagrone said he would never mislead voters intentionally.

But it was not his press aide’s fault. Lagrone made the statement about Iraq in writing and repeated it personally from one end of the state to the other.

He is on tape saying it. His son was more honest.

He said that describing the vote as being cast from the trenches in Iraq “made such a good sound bite.”

He said he personally never told anyone he was in Iraq at election time. He went over later.

At Mountain Home this week, Lagrone blamed the whole thing on “the liberal press” in remarks to a Repub-lican crowd that he said were “off the record.”

The liberal press? The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, which is the house organ of the Republican Party?

Wait, did we say Bro. Lagrone was smart?