Mike Ross 2.0: Ladies’ Man?

22 Apr

Ross-kick-off_womenLook out, it’s Mike Ross 2.0! The reinvented version, who was brought out of a very short political retirement by the party establishment, is forging ahead with a campaign strategery where he’ll tout himself as a “champion” for the rights of women in this state. Someone who will be able to defend them against those wacky GOP social ideologues who wasted no time in coming to power and enacting an agenda that seemed to offend the otherwise practical and sensible nature of Arkansans from all political stripes. By sharing his outrage about these  legislative controversies to voters, he seeks to prove his bonafides as Arkansas’s new Ladies’ Man, one might conclude.

Yes, really. He’s going there.

What’s that, you say? Everything he’s done as an elected official prior to his announcement of campaigning for governor tells us something entirely different?

Oh, I agree. Because your claims of the rhetoric not at all matching the reality is the one thing here that actually is true.

Now wipe that completely confused (and slightly constipated) look off your mug and walk through this with me.

Over at Arkansas Blog today, Max Brantley discussed the move from Planned Parenthood to highlight some of the former AR-04 congressman’s controversial and disconnected votes concerning the rights of women to control their own bodies and the funding for programs that support their overall health needs, and to press him on how he squares those actions with his recent rhetoric that tries to make his votes appear different than those cast by Republicans (and some Democrats) in the General Assembly:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross made encouraging sounds about looking out for women’s medical services and the ability to choose abortion when he announced last week. But his past record has included votes to restrict abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood, which recently survived a legislative attack on funding for its sex education work in Little Rock.

Republicans, who LIKED Ross’ past record, have been hooting about Ross’ pitch to women. Bill Halter, his Democratic opponent, has been beating up Ross as the next Jason Rapert. Ross himself has explicitly said 1) he’d have vetoed the abortion restriction bills Gov. Mike Beebe vetoed and 2) he would NOT support defunding of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services in Arkansas.

An issue for the long-term? Republicans arguing that Mike Ross isn’t as liberal as he wants to you believe? Maybe not. But the Democratic primary is something else.

The facts: Mike Ross co-sponsored a controversial bill, long with Missouri’s infamous Todd “Legitimate Rape?” Akin, that sought to redefine the definition of rape and would have prevented women from obtaining important medical care, and has also twice voted to stop federal funds from going to groups like Planned Parenthood, who provide women with myriad health services beyond those related to pregnancy and abortion.

For his part, candidate Ross claims the legislation he helped put forth was somehow not the same as what was recently enacted in Arkansas, and that his position on abortion is actually “unchanged” from his time in the House of Representatives:

“Let me be clear about my position and what it has always been. I am personally opposed to abortion. I do not believe, I do not support government-funded abortions with state or federal dollars. But like Gov. Beebe, I believe, from a public policy perspective, it should be safe, legal and rare,” [Ross] said.

Despite his politically-expedient “evolution” on these issues, and his accompanying public display of “outrage” towards the likes of Sen. Jason Rapert and the rest of the ARGOP’s in leading the Arkansas Legislature to enact these sorts of restrictions, Boss Ross has an accessible voting record we concerned citizens can review which paints a very different picture of where the man actually stands. Indeed, his was a very shameful showing of bi-partisanship at its worst when it comes to siding up with Republicans in their “War on Women” crusades.

As you would expect, Bill Halter’s campaign wasted no time weighing in on the almost Mitt Romney-esque level of flip-flopping hypocrisy shown by the recently self-proclaimed “frontrunner”:

After announcing that he would not run for reelection to Congress and less than two months after saying he was not going to run governor, Mike Ross showed his true colors and voted for this ban. Only now that he is running for governor, has he chosen to flip-flop to suit his own political ambition. Mike Ross’s statements are not consistent with his own previous actions.

Mike Ross talks about believing in Arkansas values, but yesterday he demonstrated a determined willingness to ignore those values when it served his own political ambition.

With Bill Halter, Arkansans know where he stands. He would have vetoed the abortion bills and he never would have supported the attacks on women that Mike Ross promoted by cosponsoring and voting for legislation that would have restricted women from receiving important medical care.

Mike Ross’s record of denying women access to medical care is only one of many aspects of an overall record that Arkansans will find troubling. I am confident that the Arkansas press corps will do their homework and hold Mr. Ross accountable for his own record, rather than allow him to run on someone else’s record.

Democratic_Party_of_Arkansas_LogoThis state — and the floundering state party who, by any reasonable account, have been unable to regroup and come to grips with how to still have some relevance while in the minority, needs a leader with authentic convictions that understands how to build support for real reform so we can move ahead. In my mind, Democrats here should be lining up to support someone who is, at the very least, a consistent “D” in the way they generally approach policy. Hell, one day we may even learn to raise those expectations enough to get beyond some of the same unresponsive establishment do-nothing-ness that has allowed the party to  drift aimlessly into the political wilderness.

bill-halter-glowMore inspiring would be to see the calls for real reform led by someone that is not only bold enough to offer innovative ideas, but also has the conviction and know-how to effectively rally the masses against GOP priorities that thwart Arkansas’s economic and social progress. For my money, Bill Halter is the only person that provides a chance for this to happen.

We’ll never be able to truly move this state forward if we accept anything less than the best we have to offer. The days where we are able to collectively say “Thank God for Mississippi” may be dwindling, you know.

(You can watch Roby Brock’s full interview with Mike Ross from last night’s Talk Business show below.)

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