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Granny potluck as radical den? How twisted is this campaign?

This is another installment in our irregular series on how the American political earth has turned upside down, causing head injuries to many people.

Here in Arkansas we have a Karl Rove Junior kind of fellow, named Tim Griffin, who is about to get elected as a Republican to Congress in a metropolitan/suburban district previously served by a liberal Democrat.

The time, the mood, the changing demographic, the rampant know-nothing nonsense — all accrue to his advantage.

This Griffin fellow worked for Rove in the Bush White House and then he finagled to get himself put in without Senate confirmation as the local U.S. attorney because he thought it would look swell on his resume — better than his efforts as an agent of the Republican National Committee to get black people purged from voter lists because they might have moved from the addresses on record.

So, anyway, Rove’s — I mean Griffin’s — Democratic opponent is an African-American woman named Joyce Elliott, a former teacher and teacher union organizer who also is a veteran state legislator laden with what you might call a liberal voting record.

She thinks, for example, that innocent offspring of illegal immigrants ought to be able to go to our colleges after we educate them in our high schools. Pink stuff like that.

Concurrently, there is this local chapter of a national women’s group — WAND, standing for Women’s Action for New Directions — that consists of a few local liberal-leading do-gooder senior women ranging in age from their 60s to their late 80s.

This WAND, organized in the 1980s during the Cold War, thinks we should spend less on military weapons and use some of the saved resources to tend to a cleaner environment.

So this local WAND chapter put out word that its monthly meeting last week would have as its program a couple of speeches on behalf of Joyce Elliott, one from a campaign aide of Elliott and the other from Betty Bumpers, wife of the noted former liberal Democratic senator, Dale Bumpers.

Betty Bumpers has a long history of liberal activity, such as getting children immunized in the early 1970s.

About 20 women attended this potluck supper. One woman, 55, came for the first time and promptly got elected to the advisory board because, she was told, the group could use her youthful vigor. Scary people, these 20 women worried about carbon emissions who reach out to a 55-year-old for a youth movement.

So Tim Griffin put out a dramatic news release with this headline: "Joyce Elliott’s radical, anti-military, anti-nuclear, anti-carbon endorsement."

He was referring to these 20 or so grandmothers and great-grandmothers who were having a potluck supper.

Oddly, Griffin remains a serious candidate even after issuing this news release. Oddly, he has not been laughed out of this district into which he only recently moved. Oddly, public outrage has not occurred over this attempt to assail as radical these senior women — to marginalize them in the way we used to talk from the other direction about the John Birch Society.

Do you think we perhaps spend too much money on maintaining Cold War-era weaponry and that maybe we try to fight too many elective wars at once? Do you think it would be a good idea to redirect some of our resources to technologies and initiatives to reduce our emission of pollutants? Do you think there’s nothing at all sinister about a few grandmothers and great-grandmothers getting together for a potluck once a month to talk on such things?

If so, you are one radical rascal and a detriment to any politician with whom you might seek to associate.

At least that’s the view of people who have been turned on their heads too many times without a helmet.

John Brummett is an award-winning columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and author of "High Wire," a book about Bill Clinton’s first year as president. His e-mail address is jbrummett@ arkansasnews.com.

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