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Analysis: Arkansas voters enter the silly season with Senate ads

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and his challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, are both airing warm-and-fuzzy ads that insult the intelligence of Arkansans

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

arkansas mugThe good news for local television viewers in Arkansas is that after months of snippy attack ads, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and his GOP challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, have finally started going positive in their Senate duel.ME sm

The bad news? Both campaigns have started with a couple of peculiar spots that say very little about either man — but much about how little regard their campaign managers seem to have for the intelligence of Arkansans.

Let’s start with Cotton. Just before Christmas, he aired an ad featuring a moving testimonial from, of all people, his mother.

Really? An endorsement from your mother? I would assume that even my momma, God rest her soul, would say nice things about me if someone pointed a television camera in her direction. But would that tell voters anything about my qualifications to be a U.S. senator? I doubt it.

Cotton’s mother seems like a perfectly delightful lady. But unless she’s endorsing Pryor, her views on the Senate race aren’t particularly illuminating, although I will concede the warm-and-fuzzy Yuletide ads were an improvement over the Pryor-bashing we all saw in previous months.

Not to be outdone in the banality department, Pryor went up with an ad in which he tells voters across the Natural State that the Bible is his “North Star.”

That seems a rather peculiar mixture of religion and astronomy. But it is what he says next that takes the ad straight over into strange: “The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right.”

I must have missed that day in Sunday school when we studied what Holy Scripture has to say about political parties. Then again, Senator Pryor is a Southern Baptist, and I’m not, so maybe something has simply been lost in translation.

But does the Bible really teach us that no one has all the answers? Actually, it usually teaches the opposite; namely, that the answers are to be found from the people within its covers, if one looks hard enough.  For God’s sake, a Southern Baptist ought to at least know that.

I suppose the senator’s political handlers thought this ad would burnish his Christian bona fides in a state where such things matter. But anyone who stops to think for a minute what he actually said, as opposed to the ad’s atmospherics, will realize how silly it is.

I’m sure Senator Pryor is a good Christian, and I’m sure Tom Cotton’s momma really loves him a whole, big bunch. Why the voters of Arkansas should care about either of those things, though, is a mystery.

Gentlemen, let us have substance!

1 Comment

  1. Ron West says:

    While I agree with much of your analysis of the two political adds you mention, I question your statements about Mark Pryor’s religious comments. You object to Pryor’s statement, “The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right.” You go on to state that the opposite is true and that apparently people do have all the answers.

    Actually Pryor is right. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In other words only God has all the answers. Political parties are made of people and therefore they are not always right. You must have missed that in Sunday School since that is not just a Southern Baptist doctrine. Every evangelical denomination I know teaches that.

    You stated Mark Pryor was a Southern Baptist. The last I heard he was a member of Fellowship Bible Church which is not Southern Baptist. Has his membership changed? If so what church is he a member of. I believe his parents are Presbyterian or Episcopalian. This is the tradition he probably comes from also.

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