Paul Greenberg

How many candidate interviews did we conduct here at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette during this finally, finally concluded election campaign - 20, 30, 40? Let's just say it was enough for the mathematical concept of infinity to take on real meaning.

Would they never end?

Then suddenly they were over. At 4:36 p.m. last Friday. That's when our last endorsement interview concluded.

It was as if a weight you'd grown accustomed to carrying around was gone.

Ah, the lightness of it. What were we to do with our lives now?

What we did, being editorial writers, was trade stories. Over the Internet, alas, instead of face to face at the nearest bar. Modernity has its drawbacks.

Somebody on the chat line maintained by the National Conference of Editorial Writers had put out a call for zaniest moments during this year's - or any year's - endorsement interviews. Nominations flooded in.

I'd give the prize to a Texas editorial writer. She told about the natty candidate for state comptroller who showed up wearing a shoulder holster complete with snub-nosed .38 - despite the signs all over the building saying firearms were prohibited.

Uh, sir, she reminded him, "they call it concealed-carry for a reason. No one is supposed to know you have a gun." To which her armed guest responded with a long spiel about how he was never going to be a victim. The happy thought occurred to her that he was never going to be state comptroller, either.

For the record, the editorial writer wanted it noted that she wouldn't be caught carrying around a piddly little five-shot revolver. Her own semi-auto with a 10-round mag and one in the chamber was safely and legally off-premises.

That's a Texas girl for you. I know. I married one once - kindest, smartest, politest, most dulcet-voiced thing you'd ever want to meet. She favored the Longhorns, good manners, and the Second Amendment with the same understated but unassailable politesse.

To which I always responded, "Yes, dear." An armed society is a civil society. In my case, very civil. I learned long ago not to mess with Texas.

Among other Great Moments in Endorsement Interviews were these:

-"Some years ago," an editorial writer in Ohio recalled, "a candidate for common pleas judge showed up with the customary glossy, full-color handout detailing his background and qualifications. Included was a family picture with wife, kids and dog, all looking like the perfect embodiment of "Leave It to Beaver." One of us said something about the dog, and the candidate, sheepishly but without hesitation, admitted he had rented the dog for the picture."

What, not the family, too?


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.