Sunday, February 25, 2007


How Billy Clyde missed this he cannot fathom. But as I read the actual print version of the newspaper this evening, I ran across reporter Gardner Selby's feature on Representative Brian McCall's doctoral dissertation about Texas governors.

This excites me, in an HPV way, on SOOOO many levels.

First, Garnder Selby doesn't excite me at all. When I first met him about 15 years ago, he looked like he was 16. Now that he's about 50, he looks like he's about 15. Dude, that shit ain't fair. But he's a good reporter and writer.

His story was about McCall's paper on governors. Billy Clyde more than likely will not sleep tonight because he can't wait for Representative McCall's office to open and permit me to request a copy. This gives me an actual reason to show up at the Capitol this week -- that, and the four bills in three different committees I'm working on that are posted for Tuesday. But that's not important.

BC hearts certain things: pine trees, college basketball, eggs, smart women, golf, funny novels ... but this post is about Texas Governors. Put me down in the fascinated category.

I'll do a real review after reading the dissertation. But here's my take on what Selby wrote:

JOHN CONNALLY: What can you say. He was the Barack Obama of his day. Brilliant, savvy, clever .. just the best.

PRESTON SMITH: Seems to be criticized for being too political, but his politics were awful damn good. When he won, he rewarded. When he lost, he plotted his next race. He also made Texas a better place to live.

DOLPH BRISCOE: BC really wants to read this part of Brian's dissertation before commenting too much. Selby leaves the impression that Briscoe was a detached "caretaker" who didn't come to the office much. My impression has been that Governor Briscoe, while not an "office hound," did a lot of really good things for the state. If he's crazy, he's crazy like a fox. The only reason I show up for Former Member Day is to visit with Mr. Briscoe. He's great.

BILL CLEMENTS: BC wasn't around during Governor Clements' first term, because BC was too busy going to junior and high school. But I got to work for him during the second (and I think he would freely acknowledged not his most engaged) term and believe that he maybe had as good of instincts as any of them. Conservative, pragmatic, deal-oriented .. a real Texas success story. Please read Carolyn Barta's book about him.

MARK WHITE: People made fun of Marco Blanco (aka Media Mark) and said being Governor was just a stepping stone for him. Well, pissing off school teachers and coaches, raising taxes, and permitting racetrack betting weren't particularly consensus issues. He did right for the right reasons.

ANN RICHARDS: Selby says that McCall says that talk about Bob Bullock is off the table. When I worked for Mr. Bullock in 1994 Governor Richards told her staff not to talk to me, because I was a George W. Bush's plant. Totally untrue. (a) I didn't know Bush well enough to be his plant; (b) Sibley had already staked out the plant role; and (c) I was too scared of Bullock to be a part of some Machiavellian scheme. Governor Richards was never anything but kind to me, and we became regular breakfast partners after she left office. I wish I had visited with her one last time.

GEORGE W. BUSH: One of the strangest things I have ever witnessed. In 1990, I stalked him at a Dallas dinner to find out if he was running for Governor (full disclosure: I was working for another guy in the race). His speech was pitiful. Then, four years later, I was minding my own business and cooking fajitas for a State Representative's local fund-gathering party and Bush shows up and gives the absolute best speech you could give in a FM1960 strip center parking lot. I was floored. He's the best I've seen. A lot of people, I understand, aren't that hot on him these days in his new job. Betcha anything it's the Iraq War deal and all the spending he let slide through.

My harsh critics may say, "Billy Clyde, you have nice things to say about all these modern governors. They come from different parts of the state, different parties, different political ideologies. What the hell are you saying?"

Fair enough. My answer, simply, would be that they all good people and good servants and served the state well. Few, if any, states have been so blessed.

Thank you Representative McCall. This will be be the first (and almost certainly last) dissertation, that I read. And I am psyched.


Winston Smith said...

I boiled down my long response to discover it said: You are mostly right about the governors I agree with you about, and dead wrong about the others. That's enough.
Oh hell, the world needs to know... the only good things Bill Clements had were luck and a set of fine initials.

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