Today, I attended the first 2012 meeting of the Political Animals Club at the Governor’s Mansion. The sold-out crowd was there to hear Governor Mike Beebe, who as Political Animals Club President Rex Nelson noted, is the most popular Governor in America according to various polls.
Beebe began his speech talking about new national rankings that puts Arkansas in the top 5 in educational policy, and reminded the audience that while we still rank 34th in classroom performance, we used to be 48.
Arkansas has dramatically improved our public education system, but we still have a long way to go. Beebe praised the State Supreme Court for the willpower in helping reform our educational system and had Justice Bob Brown stand up to be recognized by the audience for the Court’s work. Beebe did not, however, say specifically which Supreme Court rulings on public education deserved praise.
The bulk of Beebe’s remarks were of a philosophical nature, centering on cynicism in America and how he believes it’s a major problem for our future.
“Cynicism, in my opinion, is a bigger threat to the future of country than all of the specific issues that are so important to us,” said Beebe. He said the blame for cynicism is not the blame of just one party since there’s always rhetoric on both sides.
Beebe went on to say, “But the cynicism that’s created, that really undercuts our ability to solve problems, is an underlying theme that has to be combated before we can solve all those other problems.”
Personally, I couldn’t agree more.
After he concluded his 15-minute speech, what was striking was that in a packed house of veteran politicos, only one person, Mary Jane Rebick, asked a question of the Governor. No questions on the upcoming fiscal session, the budget, etc., which disappointed me both as a political writer and as a member of the Political Animals Club.
In the end, Beebe’s speech on cynicism in American was insightful, correct and well-received by the audience.