“Make it snappy” takes on new meaning when writing “Quick Hits,” brief comments by Arizona Republic editorial board members featured at the top of the Opinions page. You must reach a point quickly and it has to pop.
Here is a sample of what I said in 2014.
Moving needle forward on hot issues is leadership
(Feb. 2, 2014) I’m intrigued by who and what defines leadership in Arizona. The state GOP censured Sen. John McCain. The unofficial GOP response is that apparatchiks don’t represent the party. They’re “wackos,” not leaders. Critics of Jarrett Maupin, including one of my colleagues, suggested the activist hadn’t earned the “chops” as a civil-rights leader to make demands in protest of a wretched “MLK” party. Arizona’s GOP and Maupin moved needles on high-profile issues. Like it or not, that’s leadership.
Dancing to win elections and avoid what matters
(Feb. 9, 2014) Successful partisan politicians live in reality. They dance with the people who brought them. And oh what a sight, this dance. A foot-stomping, arm-flailing jig set to a high-volume, bass-heavy, monotonous ditty that gets the heart pounding. Change the tune and risk the crowd getting ugly. But if it doesn’t change, fewer will pay the price of admission. Meanwhile in the real world where most of us live, millions are wondering when leaders will stop dancing around issues of national importance.
Legislators can’t lead state from inside bubble
(March 1, 2014) Of all the talk about Senate Bill 1062, I’m troubled most by comments from Arizona GOP lawmakers stunned by the reaction to their “benign” and “innocuous” tweaks to existing law. It’s astonishing they ignored the clear truth that any mix of religion and politics requires handling with extreme care. They were either clueless or arrogant. Either way, they didn’t bother to venture outside their bubble, which is not a good position from which to move a changing, diverse state forward.
Independent voters get criticism they well deserve
(March 16, 2014) So, independent voters, did you note the comments about us last week in reaction to pollster Mike O’Neil’s Viewpoints column explaining why we have a state Legislature with views disconnected from average Arizonans? Critics say we’re “lazy.” That we have no right to complain about the choices of Arizonans who faithfully engage in the electoral process. Truth hurts. Shame on us if we continue to live down to a low opinion. Disengagement guarantees the status quo.
Gambling and bad habits no way to fund kids, parks
(April 3, 2014) You wouldn’t know it today, but state parks and early-childhood development programs once were considered important Arizona public policies. They both have funding streams. Parks get a cut of Lottery money (except when leaders decide they shouldn’t); tobacco taxes support kids programs. Important policies need great fiscal security. Relying on games of chance and a bad habit that should end isn’t security.
Think big on Hance Park, but don’t forget small success
(April 5, 2014) I hope the fantastic plans for Hance Park come to fruition in my lifetime. But, honestly, I’d settle for many more smaller successes like Civic Space Park. Here’s what made my lunches in downtown Phoenix taste better last week: A shady spot, a frisbee in flight, the pop of a baseball hitting gloves, dogs and tots taking their peeps for a stroll, kindness shown to a stranger, flirty students. People — lots of them — just chillin’. I’d like to see this daily vibe at Hance Park.
Sanity is outgunned in resolving rancher dispute
(April 27, 2014) Harry Reid wasn’t helpful when he labeled the folks riding to the rescue of Cliven Bundy as “domestic terrorists.” Six Arizona elected officials shamed us by cozying up to a guy who seems OK with bloodshed over land rights he doesn’t have and is now known to have scary views on slavery. Nobody shines on this issue, which, by the way, isn’t over. Sanity or statesmanship has no chance in this political climate. Sadly, no resolution, the status quo, may be the best hope.
Cliven Bundy apologists: Stop twisting history
(April 29, 2014) From a letter inspired by Cliven Bundy’s musings about “the Negro”: “At least in slavery (not an acceptable thing) they had a family that worked together.” Stop it! Just stop twisting the history of U.S. slavery and its toll on humanity. How anyone today can argue any redeeming quality to slavery is beyond me. For the record, slavery destroyed families. Much like ranchers regard cattle, slave masters didn’t consider preserving family units when going to market.
You nailed us, ‘Falcon9″; sometimes we’re just dumb
(June 25, 2014) May 4, 2011. Falcon9 (aka state schools chief John Huppenthal) in a post to Espresso Pundit: “People aren’t reading newspapers because they are getting their news on the web. And, now there is competition. (Regent) Greg Patterson (Espresso Pundit) is smarter and more interesting to read than all of the Republic editorial writers with the exception of Bob Robb.” Well, I guess he’s right. We endorsed Huppenthal for superintendent in 2010. Sometimes we’re not too bright.
The day that allowed future families to survive, thrive
(July 2, 2014) Today is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I can’t imagine life without it. But my 82-year-old mother knew that life well. She has never complained, but I know her life before 1964, before things were made more right by law, still frames her view of the world. She survived. I thrived. I’m glad she got to see my life. I’m grateful I didn’t know hers. I’m not that strong of a woman.
Is polite society hindering productive conversations?
(July 25, 2014) Etiquette gurus say it’s bad form to discuss religion and politics at the dinner table. Many successful parties have followed that advice. But I wonder if polite society has done us any favors. Maybe if people vented more at family dinner parties, maybe if their sincerely held beliefs were challenged by friends over appetizers, the rhetoric in our public discourse would be less strident and more productive. Quiet talks might release some of the pressure. Sort of like a good belch.
How will you win me in Nov. if you lost me in July?
(Aug. 1, 2014) Top Republican gubernatorial candidates are just “pandering,” or so I’m told. They aren’t as hard right as their rhetoric proclaims. What we see on the stump isn’t what we’ll see if elected to office. And we’re OK with this? Jennifer, you say, don’t be naive. To win, candidates must play to their primary-election audience, no matter how unrepresentative of Arizona. The winner will drift back to center before November. To which little, naive me will say, “Too late. You lost me in July.”
Common sense doesn’t play well on immigration
(Aug. 10, 2014) I hope you saw Clint Bolick’s Viewpoints column about an Arizona poll of Republicans’ views on immigration issues. Bolick says most GOP voters want border security and comprehensive immigration reform. I say so do most Democrats. So do most independents. Differences are in degree. But nuance, sophistication, common sense and kindred spirit don’t feed activists and zealots. They’re not the stuff of good sound bites. They just solve problems.
How many more Fergusons? Same story, different city
(Aug. 15, 2014) The riots and looting in Ferguson, Mo., after a police officer shot to death an unarmed Black teen is a crappy response to an old tragedy. Same story; different city. How dare they tarnish the young man’s memory with more violence? It’s wrong and unoriginal. So is the larger community’s response. How dare we ignore the history and so arrogantly dismiss easily recognizable, highly flammable social issues — just waiting for a spark — that are in so many U.S. communities?
Seeing the world through another’s wise, aged eyes
(Sept. 26, 2014) There is delight in seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Such wonder and excitement in those first chances to figure it all out. It’s hard to be jaded in those moments. Lately, I’ve seen the world through the eyes of someone who has done a good job over eight decades of figuring it all out. She sees things and wonders with wisdom. The smallest things excite, like maybe they won’t be seen again. It’s hard to be jaded in those moments.
Change in 50 years means hope, anxiety today
(Oct. 24, 2014) Arizona, like the United States, will see constant demographic change for the next 50 years. What does that mean today? Hope and anxiety. Activists who don’t like the status quo see changing demographics as an opportunity to reshape society. Activists who like things the way they used to be hold tight, restricting access if necessary, to power. There’s nothing like a general election, a screen shot in a rolling documentary, for a glimpse of a moment of changing reality.
Doug Ducey ran a ‘masterful’ race
(Nov. 8, 2014) It’s a habit of political junkies to treat top-of-the-ballot political campaigns like horse races. I’ve had a lofty perch during many Arizona cycles and from where I sat this year, it was clear the Republicans left the barn ready to win the governor’s race. I don’t concede the GOP had the better horse, but it had the money muscle, the attention to details that is the hallmark of all successful campaigns and a clear strategy to the finish line. It was masterful.
Worries about Douglas tied to a million young minds
(Nov. 16, 2014) I’m shocked to hear conservatives say Diane Douglas’ win is no big deal because the superintendent’s job doesn’t matter much. (I’d love to see them say that to Lisa Graham Keegan’s face.) I didn’t hear that talk when they were on the John Huppenthal education-reform bandwagon. I’m shocked, too, to hear them try to tamp down worries by saying voters can fix things next election. In four years. That’s a long time in students’ life. There are a million young reasons to worry.
Like it or not, Steinmetz’s gun views needed airing
(Nov. 30, 2014) Thanks to readers who understood my decision to put Peter Steinmetz’s column explaining why he took an AR-15 to Sky Harbor on the cover of Viewpoints last week. Unlike those who called the decision irresponsible, some readers saw value in allowing Steinmetz freedom to express himself. Like it or not, he helped inform the debate about gun rights. There was a method to his actions. It can and has been fairly argued there was madness, too. You need to know that.
Yap, Yap, yap: That’s The sound of political debate
(Dec. 4, 2014) A former colleague laments what passes today for conversation in the public square. It’s a lot of noise, like barking dogs. The media report the yapping from the far left and the far right, which gives the noise an air of legitimacy. It’s not normal, and it wears on nerves. I’ll never call for a muzzle on free speech, but there are times — elections, Ferguson, gun debate — when I wish there were a proper authority to report barking-dog complaints disturbing the civic peace.