Monday, July 16, 2007


Billy Clyde is resigned to the fact that for the first time since the invention of the indoor flush commode, no Texan will be on either party’s ticket during next year’s presidential election. That’s a great loss – a tragedy, really – for our great country.

Yet a story in the clips today reminded me that Texans still hold great sway in our nation’s capital. So we shouldn’t be in a total funk. It also spurred me to play a little game of connect-the-dots – kinda a Texas political version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, or whatever it's called.

The story reported that Tarrant County’s Pete Geren got himself confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Friday to be Secretary of the Army. Despite the title, it’s not really a secretarial gig. He gets to be top civilian dog over the whole Army. It’s not as big a deal as being Deputy Secretary of Defense, the job former Governor Bill Clements held. Clements, you’ll recall, beat former Secretary of State, Attorney General and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Luke Hill, who unfortunately passed away just last week.

Anyway, Pete Geren served as a Democratic Congressperson from Fort Worth for a while. He succeeded House Speaker Jim Wright, if memory serves. Pete had run for Congress in another district but lost to Representative Joe Barton, who’s still in Congress.

Geren gave up his Capitol Hill job and was replaced by Fort Worth Mayor Kay Granger, who’s also still in Congress. Her first chief of staff was Ken Mehlman, who previously had been legislative director for Congressman Lamar Smith, a former Bexar County Commissioner and short-term member of our Texas House of Representatives. Smith replaced Congressman Tom Loeffler, who gave up his seat to run against Bill Clements and Kent Hance, who beat George W. Bush for a Congressional seat in 1978 or so.

Anyway, Mehlman went on to become Republican National Chairman after serving in former Texas Governor and current President George Bush’s White House. He now works for a Texas-based law firm – one of whose founders is Texan Robert Strauss, who used to be Democratic National Chairman.

President Bush – the present one, not his daddy, who was also President and appointed Mr. Strauss Ambassador to Russia – tapped Mehlman for top GOP position. Mehlman replaced Ed Gillespie, whose wife runs Congressman Barton’s political operation. If you’re being alert, you’ll remember that Barton is the guy who newly minted Army Secretary Geren first ran against.

On a personal note, I should mention that Billy Clyde’s then roommate – who periodically comments on this blog under the name Shake Tiller – was Geren’s press secretary during that campaign against Barton. I stayed in Austin and worked part-time for then Texas GOP executive director John Weaver, who’s from some little town out in West Texas. You may have heard about Weaver during the past week or so. He was the longtime chief strategist for non-Texan John McCain and bolted – along with a lot of other McCainiacs.

If this post is confusing to read, just think how confusing was to write. Any mistakes are mine and should not be blamed on the vacationing Ross Ramsey.

But this I know is 100 percent factual: Pete Geren is a smart, funny, hard-working Texan. And while BC doesn’t really know what a Secretary of the Army does, he’s confident that Secretary Geren will do it very, very well.