Archived entries for Texas

The Texas Bushes

Since my recent foray into Texas, I’ve become a Texas Monthly nut. Last month they had a terrific piece (not available online without subscription, but thank god for Google cached content) about the Bush legend in Texas. Great read!

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“Putting your name on Texas is [not] all that easy. Lyndon Johnson did it (better yet, he monogrammed us) and also got to lead the free world for a while. Yet between LBJ and the Bushes was a two-decade interregnum in which Texas voters strongly trended Republican but neither party could put the other away. It took both the Bushes to pull off the remarkable feat of rebranding this contested turf as their dynastic homeland—and whoever hopes to claim future naming rights to our state should take some notes on how a patrician New England family turned Texas into Bush Country. It wasn’t just brilliant political bean counting, chicanery, or a masterstroke of political strategy. Texas is a storytelling culture, and the Bushes told a story about Texas that was so good they got to put their name on our state.”

“Much like an epic in an oral tradition, the Bush story was composed of threads of history, myth, and previous narratives, and it evolved over time, which is why it held its force during two of the most transforming decades in Texas history. But at its heart was a powerful, patriarchal, almost biblical tale. It may have lacked the sheer moral drama of Exodus—that was LBJ’s Texas narrative, bringing the state out of the bondage of grinding poverty and Jim Crow racism. The story the Bushes told was more like the Book of Deuteronomy, a political covenant intended to bind a fractious, prolifically multiplying people and prepare them for the promised land.”

Austin

I am so in love with Austin! I could easily see myself living here — if only it were on the ocean. Staying at the uber-cool Hotel San Jose, a yuppie version of a roadside motel.

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Gone to the Lone Star State

I’m visiting Austin for the first time ever…I’m eager to see the town. First stop: Whole Foods. Sure, it’s not like I don’t have one on my block in NYC, but the Austin flagship is the real deal!

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Congrats Chris!

chris_heinbaughIn the recent Dallas mayoral campaign, it was looking like the huge Texas city stereotyped as full of big hair and bigots might wind up with a gay mayor. In the June runoff election, openly gay city councilman Ed Oakley lost 42%-58% to Turner Construction CEO Tom Leppert. And in a surprise move, Leppert, who was pegged as anti-gay throughout the campaign, this week announced his new chief of staff, WFAA-TV reporter and our BFF, the uber-gay Chris Heinbaugh.

When I first met Chris about five years ago at a party in SoHo, I distinctly recall laughing under my breath (or maybe not so under my breath) about him: after all, he was the first person I’d ever met who wore a cowboy hat to a party, and wasn’t doing so as a joke. He could actually pull it off. Chris, the one and only Texan I know, is also one of the kindest and smartest people I know — and I wouldn’t have my friends any other way!

Talkin’ Texan

President Bush, on his new plan for language education: “In order to convince people we care about them, we’ve got to understand their culture and show them we care about their culture,” he said. “You know, when somebody comes to me and speaks Texan, I know they appreciate the Texas culture. When somebody takes time to figure out how to speak Arabic, it means they’re interested in somebody else’s culture.”

Cindy Sheehan protests continue

cindy_sheehan2The media firestorm around Cindy Sheehan continues. Though she recently had to return home from her camp-out in Crawford, Tex., the protest village she created continues to challenge the war in Iraq. Some of the most pointed criticism of the president’s refusal to meet with the mother of a fallen soldier comes from Canada (surprise!). In a piece on the online magazine Rabble, a writer explained:

“George Bush and his advisers stumbled, and stumbled badly when the President refused to meet with Cindy Sheehan. The presidential PR strategy went off the road and into the ditch as well, except that the President became perceived as a cowardly and craven commander-in-chief, lacking the cojones or plain good manners to invite Cindy Sheehan for tea and sympathy.”

“As Cindy Sheehan began to attract national and then international attention to the point that her voice was cracking from the hundreds of interviews she gave, the Bushites began to plan their counter attack on the character of this woman who had lost a son in Mr. Bush’s war.”

“The standard political tactic in such situations is to try and destroy the character of whoever it is that has become bothersome, and that is exactly what the Bush PR machine tried to do.”

“Ironic, is it not, that it should be a woman who can face down the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful nation in the history of the world, by standing for the cause of truth in a dusty ditch near Crawford, Texas.”

• Ambassador Joe Wilson’s statement on Cindy Sheehan protest: “This White House never wants an open public discussion, and it certainly never wants to be told that it is wrong. It always tries to change the message by attacking the messenger.”

• From the New York Times, Mother’s Grief-Fueled Vigil Becomes Nexus for Antiwar Protesters

A PR crisis for President Bush

sheehanWhen the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq is camped out in front of your home, what do you do? If you’re the president of the United States, you ignore her and create a public relations firestorm.

In the last 24 hours, I have become enthralled with the story of Cindy Sheehan for its shining example of how even the most compelling stories remain largely ignored by the public until they are picked up by bloggers. No one was making much news of Cindy Sheehan’s camp out in Crawford until the blogs hit the case. Now much of the mainstream media has made it the story du jour, providing the president with a serious dilemma: talk to Sheehan and bolster the case of war detractors, or ignore her and appear quite callous.

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “That a grieving woman seeks to speak to the president or that she opposes the war is hardly news as the war rages in its third year. But the image of an anguished 48-year-old mother standing outside the vacation home of the most powerful leader in the world, asking him to explain her son’s death, is compelling and has caught the attention of millions of people from Canada to New Zealand.”

“For Bush, Sheehan’s presence seems to create a no-win situation: If he invites her to talk, he further elevates her protest, potentially angers the other families of the more than 1,850 Americans who have died in Iraq and provides Sheehan a greater forum to spread her anti-war views. If he ignores her, he risks appearing so callous that he doesn’t have the time, or the inclination, to spend a few minutes of his vacation with a mother who lost her son as a direct consequence of the president’s foreign policy decisions.”

Gay Ed Gets Boost in Toronto

In Toronto this week, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called for gay-ed toleranceas Muslim parents object to their children being required to participate in anti-homophobia education.

Meanwhile, Texas is taking the sex out of sex ed, demanding that textbook publishers change the description of marriage between “two people” to marriage between “a man and a woman.” Ellen Goodman calls it “Red Sex Ed.”



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