Just when you think you know somebody, along comes some new information to throw that strident opinion into a cocked hat. For more on that, witness these stunning betrayals of party orthodoxy by three Republican state chief executives:
Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota is a Republican and a member of the National Rifle Association. Governor Daugaard had warned his Republican-controlled state legislature that if it passed a pair of bills designed to loosen gun controls in South Dakota, he would be obliged to veto those bills. Last week the legislature called his bluff, only to learn that the governor was not bluffing. Daugaard quickly vetoed a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons inside of the state capitol as well as a bill that would allow concealed-carry without a permit. (The current concealed-carry permit has a $10.00 fee which funds a background check on the gun owner.) The bills did not initially pass with enough votes to override the governor's veto.
There is no word yet on whether Ted Nugent will be dispatched to Pierre to counsel the errant governor or not.
I have written about Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, on several occasions, and each time I am careful to mention that he is a graduate of Bob Jones University. I note that because I believe that people's educational backgrounds help to explain why they act as they do. Governor Hutchinson has been a fairly reliable right-wing troglodyte - witness his state's pending spree-killing of eight death row inmates over ten days - beginning the day after Easter.
But Hutchinson and his legislature (which contains several of his family members) have recently acted in a manner that is likely to leave many of his ardent fans scratching their cootified heads in bewilderment. Arkansas has been one of several southern states that conjoined the federal Martin Luther King birthday holiday with a state birthday commemoration of Confederate General Robert E. Lee - a move some felt has the impact of narrowing the importance of King's recognition. Now, thanks to action by the legislature and Governor Hutchinson's approval, Dr. King's birthday will stand alone.
The Arkansas coupling of the holiday for King and Lee began in 1985. After Hutchinson signed the bill separating the two holidays, he noted that "It gives us a chance to show respect for one another." That's a fairly egalitarian sentiment for a graduate of Bob Jones University!
Jan Brewer, though no longer a state chief executive, was the governor of Arizona until very recently. Her tenure coincided with much of the time that I resided in the Scorpion State, and I succumbed to the urge to write about her political outrages on numerous occasions. It was during some of those early tirades at the keyboard when I dubbed her the "Sand Hag," a play on the old "Sea Hag" of Popeye fame. I don't regret that label because Jan Brewer was, as governor, not a nice person.
But even bad guys have their off-days, and Jan Brewer broke with national Republicans when she suddenly decided that Arizona should expand Medicaid - and then strong-armed enough members of her state legislature to get the job done. Now she is following through on that earlier apostasy with some exacting criticism of Paul Ryan's "health care" plan. The following was taken from a diary at Daily Kos:
Brewer said in an interview earlier this week that "it weighs heavy on my heart" when she thinks of the current Republican plan to repeal and replace Obama's law.
"It just really affects our most vulnerable, our elderly, our disabled, our childless adults, our chronically mentally ill, our drug addicted," she said of the potential elimination of coverage for the expansion population. "It will simply devastate their lives and the lives that surround them. Because they're dealing with an issue which is very expensive to take care of as a family with no money."
Jan Brewer is the mother of a seriously mentally-disabled adult son - and, unlike most members of the Grand Old Party, she is able to view health care as a humanitarian issue. Perhaps she isn't such a Sand Hag after all.
So, with signs of intelligence and human decency beginning to force their way through tiny cracks in the concrete of the Republican facade, is there any hope for the likes of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, or Donald John Trump? Probably not - humanity, after all, hinges on being human.