Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas thrilled liberals and outraged conservatives with his Tuesday appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to defend vetoing a ban on gender confirming treatments or surgery for transgender youth.
The interview: During the combative interview, Hutchinson said “limited government principles” had required his Monday veto of the bill which was quickly overridden by the Republican-controlled state legislature.
- “I go back to William F. Buckley, I go back to Ronald Reagan, the principles of our party, which believes in a limited role of government,” Hutchinson said, describing himself as a “person of faith.”
- Hutchinson also said he was a “person of faith” and would support a prohibition on chemical castration or gender confirming surgery for children, but “this bill goes way too far” and would harm minors already receiving hormone-blocking hormones to prevent puberty.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Hutchinson of having come out as “pro-choice on the question of chemical castration of children” and questioned his claims to have studied the science on issue.
- Carlson challenged Hutchinson to explain why he was OK with protecting children from alcohol, marriage or tattoos but not from the “life-altering” and potentially “very negative” gender confirming treatments.
- He repeatedly suggested “corporate interests” had gotten to Hutchinson and finally asked: “10 years ago, if somebody had said, ‘Hey, Asa Hutchins, you’re going to be the governor of Arkansas, and you’re going to veto a bill that would have protected children from chemical castration.’ What do you think you would’ve said?”
Hutchinson responded by reiterating his concerns about minors already on hormone blockers and about equal treatment of children, parents and health care providers under the law.
- Daily Beast contributing editor Justin Baragona was among those who highlighted a moment when Hutchinson pushed back on Carlson.
Hutchinson just weeks ago faced charges of anti-LGBT discrimination from the left for signing a transgender sports ban and a measure allowing doctors to refuse to treat someone because of moral or religious objections.
But conservative commentators, including John Bradford Williams, declared that Carlson had effectively ended Hutchinson’s political career.
Podcaster Buck Sexton and others recalled Carlson’s grilling last month of Republican Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota over her effective veto of a transgender sports ban.
Populists on the right, like American Affairs deputy editor Gladden Pappin, mocked the very idea of limited government conservatism as outmoded.
New York Post opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari thought he could hear the movement’s “death knell.”
“Hutchinson wasn’t prepared for this interview, and he’s exactly the kind of Republican that should have no part in the future of the party,” RedState blogger “Bonchie” reflected on Wednesday.
- “If a GOP politician can’t stand up to prevent physical abuse of children, then that person doesn’t have any business being a Republican at all.
Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee’s governors have signed laws this year banning transgender athletes from participating in sports based on declared gender identity.
- More than two dozens states are considering similar legislation.
- A recent Politico/Morning consult poll found 53% of registered voters support such bans, including 74% of Republicans.