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Thursday, September 14, 2006

How Ann Richards Got to Be Governor of Texas

In memory of Ann Richards, here's an excerpt from Molly Ivins' essay, "How Ann Richards Got to Be Governor of Texas," (from Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?):
Interestingly enough, one of Williams's ads showed Ann Richards at the political highlight of her career, making the keynote address to the Democratic Convention in 1988, specifically, the famous line on President Bush: "Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." The ad ran in August, at the start of the Persian Gulf crisis, when patriotism was at flood tide and criticizing the president was tantamount to treason. But I was astonished by how many people objected to that line and held it against Richards throughout the campaign. The line itself is already classic and will be used in every anthology of political humor published hereafter. Yet a surprising number of men are alamred by the thought of a witty woman. They think of women's wit as sarcastic, cutting, "ball-busting": it was one of the unstated themes of the campaign and one reason why Ann Richards didn't say a single funny thing during the whole show. Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist once asked a group of women at a univeristy why they felt threatened by men. The women said they were afraid of being beaten, raped, or killed by men. She tehn asked a group of men why they felt threatened by women. They said they were afraid women would laugh at them.

You know, I'm skeptical of anecdotes like the one Ivins includes from the Atwood speech--I want to know how the question was framed, what the context was, etc.?--but it works in the rest of the essay, which includes this note about the tone of the attack ads in the 1990 Texas gubernatorial race between Richards and Clayton Williams, a rancher who "believed the world simple," writes Ivins:
One of his most brilliant ad series would give some simple-minded, tough-talk answer to a complex problem and then close with, "And if they tell you it can't be done, you tell them they haven't met Clayton Williams yet." If they'd just shut him up in a box for the duration of the campain, he'd be governor today.

In late March, he invited the press corp out to his ranch for roundup. They got bad weather. Sitting around the campfire with three male reporters, Williams opined, "Bad weather's like rape: as long as it's inevitable, you might as well just lie back and enjoy it." Bubba, the shorthand we use to denore the average, stereotypical Texan, has been using that line for years. But it was Williams's fate in the campaign to keep unerringly finding that fault line between the way things have always been in Texas and the way things are getting to be. Richards shrewdly picked up on the difference with her endlessly reiterated slogan about "the New Texas." Claytie Williams is Old Texas to the bone.

This is a particularly nice memorial to her from the Austin American Statesman.


Blogger NecrochildK on Tue Sep 16, 09:09:00 AM:
Way way too much rice, friend! lol Your gumbo should be somewhat soupy, more like a stew consistancy, not rice and gravylike.