If you are looking for a canary in the mineshaft for the 2014 mid-term elections, pay attention to Arkansas.
There, Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor gasps for air in a race against Rep. Tom Cotton, a Harvard lawyer and Army combat veteran.
Pryor has been a puppy-dog vote for Sen. Harry Reid and Barack Obama on just about everything. Pryor backed the policies of Reid and the president -- policies that have resulted in more people unemployed, the poor getting poorer and more dependent upon government and a foreign policy pattern that makes the world a more dangerous place for Americans to live.
And now Sen. Pryor faces the Arkansas electorate. Given recent polling data, voters appear poised to fire him.
This weekend the state's largest newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette issued a devastating editorial against Pryor. It was entitled "It's Clearer Than Ever" and it took Pryor to task for disrespecting the stellar military service of his opponent, Rep. Cotton.
A friend of mine from Arkansas called the editorial "blistering". And he's right. Here's a piece of this morning's editorial:
"WHAT KIND of leader will we demand in this election for the U.S. Senate—one who courts the bubble popularity, whose idea of politics is to go along to get along, who by experience means just doing the same thing year in and year out, and confuses mere seniority with real service?
"The kind of politician who invariably does the safe thing rather than the right thing—until he finally may not even see the difference. The kind of 'leader' who can’t recognize even an outstanding military career as relevant to service in high office.
"Yes, that kind of politician will pay lip service to the sacrifices veterans have made. 'I will never criticize anyone for service to our country and I say Thank You for that,' Mark Pryor told his interviewer. End of routine thank you.
"Except that NBC’s Kasie Hunt pressed him further: 'But you don’t see it as a qualification?' That’s when the senator went right over the cliff:
“'Uh, no,' he answered, smiling and laughing. 'There’s a lot of people in this Senate that didn’t serve in the military. In the Senate we have all kinds of different backgrounds . . . .'
"The senator doesn’t understand, does he? It’s not the senators’ different backgrounds that once made the Senate of the United States the world’s greatest deliberative body but the greatness, the grace under pressure, the courage that great senators brought to their duty. It’s not membership in the Senate that makes a leader great, it’s the greatness of its members who make the Senate great. Who wants a Senate that is only representative of all kinds of different backgrounds, that is, of all of us? We don’t. We want a U.S. Senate that is better than the rest of us, certainly better than we are, and we don’t propose to settle for any lesser standard."
Blistering? Yes, I'd call that blistering.
Based on the aftermath of Pryor's stupid statement about his opponent's military service, I'd take Pryor out of the "In Trouble" category and put him in the "In Big Trouble" category, because has his hometown newspaper points out: "It’s not membership in the Senate that makes a leader great, it’s the greatness of its members who make the Senate great."
Mark Pryor has been far less than great.
PS: Nevadans ought to save this Arkansas editorial for 2016. It applies equally to Sen. Harry Reid.