Arkansas Legislature

Why I Appreciate Robbie Wills

A few days ago, Speaker of the House Robbie Wills posted, on his personal web page, a description of the House debate on new tobacco taxes that many found remarkable and startling. After some criticism, he has since appended his comments of last week by noting that he “got caught up in the moment” and that his comments were “not helpful.”

I think it is generally a healthy development when public officials admit that they made a mistake — to say, as President Obama recently said, “I screwed up.” It doesn’t happen very often, political egos being what they are. Especially when you’re in the public eye, it’s just hard to do anything that looks like you are criticizing yourself publicly.

Robbie Wills has demonstrated with this latest comment that he is willing to listen and learn from criticism. These two abilities are essential to leadership; furthermore, they present a most pleasing contrast to some aspects of other legislators whom I have had the misfortune to deal with. I obviously don’t agree with Robbie on everything, but he demonstrated today why he is highly appreciated as Speaker on both sides of the aisle.

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