Last week was a rough one here in Arkansas. For those that were living under a rock, the Democratic campaign manager for the Ken Aden campaign(AR-03) came home with his kids to find their family cat killed with the word "LIBERAL" written on the animal's fur. (warning, link contains a graphic image of the cat). Well the even sparked a national outcry and being close to what's happening here on the ground I thought I'd make a point to keep everyone updated on everything that's gone on...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let me assure you all, the overwhelming out pouring of support has been truly a reaffirmation in the goodness humanity is capable of. But there have been a few bad apples to deal with...
First let me say that this really has brought out the best in people. People from all over the country started ringing the phones at the Democratic Party of Arkansas's headquarters off the hook as soon as the story hit and folks from all over the state called Jake Burris (Ken's campaign manager) and Ken to offer their condolences, any help, another cat, or in some cases even safe houses for the kids if it was needed.
On top of that, Jake told me yesterday that the Russellville police have been amazing and extremely helpful. They patrol his area regularly now and check in to make sure everything is okay.
Sadly, Jake couldn't keep his kids from learning the truth about this forever. Explaining death to a small child is one thing (his oldest is nine), but explaining hate is something else. And in all the craziness that was going on the day after that horrible night word got around and the kids were asked about it at school. However, after going to the school and talking to everyone from the superintendent on down, the school responded positively and effectively and the kids have bounced back pretty quickly. (Kids are often stronger than we give them credit for I guess.)
That said, there has been some ugliness that came out on this. Three guesses from where and the first two don't count...
Now let me begin by stressing that Ken's Republican opponent, through a spokesperson, condemned the act immediately, to his credit. However, there's been some conspiracy among the right wing trolls on various blogs and websites speculating that all this was a hoax. Since I got the pic of the cat on Blue Arkansas, it's been kind of hard for them to say the whole thing was just fabricated (hasn't stopped a few) but others have suggested that Jake had killed his own cat for publicity. Tellingly, we had one troll show up on Blue Ark ranting about how "liberal Jews" do this all the timeand then dared to raise the specter of Gabby Giffords. (Though he called her "Cathy Giffords").
Trolls though are one thing. Hate radio hosts are another...especially when the local host in question, Kermit Womack, is the father of Ken Aden's opponent, Congressman Steve Womack. Now, Daddy Womack as I call him doesn't have a very big platform. His radio program reaches a very small group of people, so I really had to way the pros and cons of giving him any attention. People from the northwest part of the state though have been telling me horror stories about him for some time, including about how he's occassionaly spelled out names of callers and read their phone numbers or said where they live on the air when he gets into arguments with them. He denys this, I have no concrete proof of it, but bare with me here and you'll see why I'm inclined to doubt his word. After all this happened, Daddy Womack made the comment that:
“I would say that when your campaign is short of funds and you don’t have the money to go out and buy legitimate advertising you gotta resort to tricks. You gotta resort to creative usage…”
Don't believe the man could be so vile? Here's the recording. And you know what? He still denies he ever said it! Again, normally this would be the rantings of a local Rush Limbaugh wannabe...but he's the Congressman's father, and that adds a peculiar twist to the whole affair. But hey, let's not get in the mud with him. Let's just make him eat those words by helping out Ken Aden for Congress on ActBlue.