Finding that a person’s actions don’t warrant criminal prosecution is not the same as finding that the person has performed a great public service, but Mike Huckabee doesn’t recognize such distinctions. What doesn’t get him indicted makes him more brazen.

After a long investigation, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that he’d found no laws broken by the former governor and his employees when they crushed more than 90 computer hard drives, containing who knows what information, before leaving office.

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Huckabee promptly crowed that McDaniel had “discovered that we acted not only under the direction of state officials but in the best interest of the people of Arkansas.” That, McDaniel replied, was the well-known crock, and he noted particularly that the governor is expected to direct state officials, not the other way around. Like the Little Rock School Board, Huckabee apparently doesn’t understand who’s supposed to be in charge.

Had the Huckabites been more open and less whiny, this matter could have been resolved long ago, but that was not their way. Furtiveness and pettiness were. While the hard drives were in the crusher, Huckabee was also denying research funds to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences because he was miffed at the UAMS chancellor. Legal it may have been, but Huckabee’s departure remains graceless, our judgment at the time.

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Why not Little Rock?

Congress having failed to pass new immigration legislation — largely because members of President Bush’s own party won’t support him — it’s up to local governments to deal with a rapidly growing illegal-immigrant population. One city that is doing so constructively is New Haven, Conn. Little Rock could learn from New Haven’s example.

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Rather than enact tougher anti-immigrant ordinances, and arrest even more inoffensive immigrants, New Haven has chosen charity. The city is offering a municipal identification card that will allow undocumented immigrants access to city services such as parks and libraries, and enable them to open bank accounts.

Lack of identification often prevents illegals from opening bank accounts, which results in their carrying cash, which results in their being robbed. The new ID card will make New Haven streets safer, which should appeal to law-and-order advocates.

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While other cities enact punitive legislation prohibiting landlords from leasing to illegal immigrants, penalizing businesses that employ them, and training police to arrest them, New Haven demonstrates compassion and understanding. Which approach seems more American, more worthy of Little Rock’s emulation? And, for what it’s worth, more Christian?

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