Saturday, May 26, 2007



I got up this morning and fetched the newspaper from the front yard. At the very top of the front page was a story that accurately reflected what I thought was just a bad dream. Either the Austin American-Statesman is playing a nasty psycho-terrorist mind game on Billy Clyde, or else your Texas House of Representatives has devolved into a state of utter dysfunction.

In any event, not exactly a win-win deal.

BC is one of those fellows who knows a very little bit about a whole lot. Not an expert in anything, really. But fairly conversant about a buncha stuff – most of it, frankly, pretty useless.

But BC was schooled in parliamentary procedure by none other than Robert E. (Big Daddy, Bevo) Johnson. It’s not a cliche to say he wrote the rules, because, uh, he actually wrote the rules.

For reasons that still elude me, Bob Johnson probably spent more time with me during the last five to seven years of his life than he did with his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his peers, etc. Looking back, it was kinda strange. I was 30 years his junior, not really in his class intellectually or professionally ... but he not only let me hang around, he actually seemed to want me around. Go figure.

Louis B pointed out something to me one day that should have been self evident were I more observant, to wit: Big Daddy would sit in his office playing computer solitaire for hours on end and never saying a word or interacting with us in any way; yet when we tried to leave, he would be offended. “Don’t run off mad,” he would say, whatever that meant. I think what it meant that he enjoyed our company; as goofy as it sounds, I take pride in knowing that Big Daddy enjoyed my company.

The point of this rambling nonsense is that (1) the House would not find itself in this situation if Big Daddy were still around; and (2) while Billy Clyde is generally a dumbass, he knows a little something about the House rules (so I got that going for me).

We can argue all day till we’re blue in the face about whether the Speaker’s absolute right of recognition supercedes any privilege contained in the underlying motion the seeker of recognition wishes to offer. Blah blah blah.

The real question is this: Just because, technically, you can do something or other, does that inherently make it right?


Billy Clyde is one of the few dudes around the Capitol these days who will freely say that he thinks Tom Craddick is a really good guy. He’s contributed a lot to the state and his community and is worthy of any and all accolades we can throw his way. Speaker Craddick is the sort of guy you ALWAYS want on your team.

But this battle isn’t about Tom Craddick. It’s about the House, as an institution and as a symbol of the people’s voice in state government. Far be it to me to suggest what path the Speaker should take – he was elected to the House before I entered first grade, for crying out loud – but Billy Clyde believes that mapping out an exit strategy or dignified departure (whether executed or not) only makes good sense.

We all do that kind of stuff every day. I don’t want to die, but I have life insurance.

Here’s the handwriting on the wall, as BC sees it. The Speaker’s floor leaders are people like Jodie Laubenberg, Bill Zedler, Linda Harper-Brown, Larry Taylor, Leo Burnam and Geanie Morrison. The opposing team has Brian McCall, Jim Keffer, Robert Talton, Jim Dunnam, Jim Pitts, Mike Krusse, Charlie Geren, Pete Gallego, Marc Veasey, Pat Haggerty, Senfronia Thompson, Todd Smith, Craig Eiland, Edmund Kuempel, Patrick Rose ... well, you get the point. Not a fair fight.

If there’s going to be a change in leadership this weekend, let’s not make it a zero-sum game. Spirit beats spite every time. When the end result is the same, what glory is there in rubbing someone’s nose in the rubbish?

There is no good reason to end a brilliant career in public service by throwing Speaker Craddick out on his ear in a painful fit of revenge and hate.

By the same token, there is no good reason – and this pains me to say – for Tom Craddick to stay in office.


texxasredd said...

B'Clyde - I guess it all sort of depends upon your political persuasion. The donks would dearly love ol' Tom to stay speaker so they can crucify the Tom-lovers come election time - assuming they can find anyone to run on their ticket (which, I admit, is a big assumption on my part). The fants need Tom not to be speaker so they don't have to defend their support of this speaker when those pesky elections come around again. It don't get any better than this - the fun just goes on and on....

Bubba Galt said...

I disagree, but acknowledge that you could be right, Mr. Clyde. However, I would argue that there IS a very good reason to finish the House's business. If Craddick does step down, the House's ability to do that business disappears. The "insurgency" has made its point. Let's get what we have to do done, then go back to our corners for round two.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments on Big Daddy...he had the ability to make everyone feel special. I was with him at the Austin Club a few days before he decided to ride his bulldozier to the sky and stopped by Scott&White before he passed away. It was about the House and then about the Senate...he was the only one I knew who could tell Bullock he was wrong and never be fired. He would have left the dais yesterday too. One the way to the Capitol today I think I will take a stroll by the Robert Johnson building and remember what Texas was like.

Billy Clyde said...

ANON 1:18

Thanks for the kind words about our large father. I'm going to be extra-pious so I can spend the afterlife hanging out with him; if he went to hell, then I shall proceed sinning my ass off.

Winston Smith said...

BC, I really hope your post lobbyist career incorporates plenty of activities around the legislature. Texas needs your perspectives.

Another way to look at it is that the handful of people with the institutional knowledge you have, make Texas government. (Yeah, there are some).

It would be a shame to lose you.

Anonymous said...

All that being said....BC also does a pretty good Laney impersonation.

Anonymous said...

When former Senator Bill Ratliff announced his retirement in 2004, certain people within the legislature, state government,lobbyists, and the press coprs were concerned about the loss of such sage wisdom and experience.

One exasperated member of the press asked former Ratliff college David Sibley, "what will the Senate do without Ratliff?" Sibley dryly responded, "I suspect they'll continue to meet." The point obviously being that the institution will continue to represent Texans, and others will step up to fill the void in leadership.

The Texas House will, in fact continue, and be better for all those who've served and led, including Tom Craddick. If his time is up, so be it. His members will let him know (more than the 40 that are REALLY upset). I suspect that several of his really good friends will approach him after the session and ask him to help them pick his successor.

The Republicans will have to choose a leader amongst themselves, and I predict that it will not be the member that brings the most Democrats to the table, but instead, the one that THEY believe will lead them fairly and won't embarrass them. I also predict that the perpetually unhappy 30 will continue to be perpetually unhappy, and continue to try obstruct the majority.

March primaries in a presidential election with polarizing figures like McCain, Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, and perhaps Thompson, will demand everyone's attention, and the actions of May 07 will be a distant memory. November elections with an ongoing war will bring a HUGE influx of voters, and a "throw the bums out" mentality may prevail, however, it won't be because of the leadership struggle in the Texas House.

Frank S.

Blue said...

Good insight, and I very much agree.