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So, who is the real Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

So, who is the real Sarah Huckabee Sanders?

May 15th, 2018 by George Smith, Guest Columnist in Opinion Columns

The first time I saw Sarah Huckabee was in the mid-80s. She was just above toddler age, walking primly behind her father toward the Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana, where Mike Huckabee was pastor.

Being a native of Hope, as was Huckabee, I said "hey" to him and patted her on the head. As little girls and boys do when head-patted by a stranger, she hid behind her poppa.

As with certain people in all our lives, Mike and I were destined to cross paths myriad times in our careers. I first met him in 1972 when he was a senior at Hope (Ark.) High School; I was managing editor of the Hope Star newspaper, a five-day daily. He worked at the radio station and later attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, where I was an adjunct teacher in journalism his freshman year.

Of course, when he was governor of Arkansas, I was a newspaper editor and publisher and we met up more than occasionally. I was a harsh-word editorial writer at times and Mike, unlike many politicians, had a sense of humor. I was publisher at the Benton Courier in central Arkansas when one day a package arrived; the governor's seal was prominently affixed. In it was an 8x10 color photo of Mike with the inscription: "When are you going to write something good about me?"

I had our staff photographer snap a quick photo and make an 8x10. On it I wrote "When you do something good."

The next time I saw Sarah Huckabee (nee Sanders) was on television as a daily news briefing at the White House where she was subbing in for the now-gone Sean Spicer.

I stared at the screen for a long time but could not link up any similarities between the little girl in Texarkana and the woman striving to run a raucous news briefing. It took only a split millisecond to realize Sarah looks more like her mother Janet than she does her father.

Knowing her father as a teenager, having seen her as a little girl, I tried to find a reason to appreciate her in her new important and highly visible post. It was an impossible task.

She is, well, "Trumpish." Being Trumpish means demanding personal loyalty from anyone in (or out) of his circle. Any early apostle to the Doctrine of Trump was Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She bought what he was selling and advanced up his Ladder of the Faithful until she landed the most public of jobs—press secretary.

Many truly believe she has the hardest job in Washington-on-the-Deficit, having to:

  •  Parrot party lines regardless of her personal conviction or feelings;
  •  Dish up heaping helping of political pabulum to reporters who are used to grinding their teeth on raw meat, and;
  •  Standing in front of a roomful of inky wretches and broadcast sharks with pens and recorders and cameras and repeat non-denial denials and outright lies with benign conviction and a straight face.

The media and a big slice of the public has not been kind to Sanders, and with little wonder: She comes across as a sour, ill-tempered woman, The Princess of Monotone, who talks a lot and says little. Her job requirements can be simply stated, but her job is anything but simple: She takes to her podium to beat back the press from getting too much information about the news blockbuster news or perceived scandal.

In a word, she is good, very good at what she does, which is to keep President Trump's anxiety level at an acceptable level. She is a proficient lion-tamer in a cageful of hungry big cats.

You don't have to admire her words, her stances on key issues she received as official policy of the administration or her presentation skills. But, at this point in time, she is doing the bidding of the most powerful man on Earth and he is well pleased with her performance.

And in Trump's world, that's how you keep your job.

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