Monday, May 28, 2007

How do you know when...

This is pretty local and arcane, but people in Texas who have been following the recent events in the Texas House of Representatives will know what I am talking about.

An old bad joke made worse (something Texas politicians are good at):

Q: How do you know when Tom Craddick is lying?
A: When Terry Keel's lips are moving.

When the people of the state declined to make Keel a judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, they forgot to drive a stake through his heart.

OK, I suppose I should explain this. It's simply too obscure.

Terry Keel was my rep in the Texas Legislature. Although (because of gerrymandering) he represented what was considered a safe Repub seat, his ambition led him to run for higher office. Whether because of his haircut, which, though comic, is a trivial issue but probably the deciding one, or because of his politics, which combined an opportunism he is unable to conceal with an extremism which down-home Republican extremists probably suspected, unjustly, was merely simulated, he lost.

Cheers arose from all of us who have had anything to do with him. A Democrat won the seat he vacated. Hurrah!

Meanwhile, the speaker of the Texas House, Tom Craddick, a minor league henchman of Tom Delay, was running into difficulty with his own party in the Lege because of his high-handed ways. I don't know the details of why--his arrogance, favoritism, and stupidity have not changed and have not harmed him in the past so I see no reason why they should suddenly do so now--my guess is that backroom backstabbing is involved--but anyway a revolt broke out and a head count showed he did not have the votes to keep his post. So, his response to this situation was to fire the Parliamentarian (a paid official) whose job was to make sure parliamentary rules were followed, and he hired an unemployed pol, the selfsame Terry Keel mentioned above, as a replacement.

The reason quickly became apparent. One thing that Craddick is not, is quick on his feet. In fact he is possibly the most inarticulate and witless politico this side of George Bush himself. You have not seen a deer in the headlights until you have seen Tom Craddick attempt to answer an unfriendly question. Keel, on the other hand, though creepy beyond belief even without his black cape, is smart.

So for the duration of the (failed) revolt, about 3 days, those of us with enough curiosity to tune in on the local access channel which had the Lege live, could see someone raise a point of order, and Craddick would turn to Keel, Keel would speak in slow three or four word phrases (the limit of Craddick's short term memory, apparently) which Craddick would repeat verbatim on the mike. The world's worst puppet show.

In this way, Keel orchestrated a refusal to recognize any motion whatsoever to remove the speaker. And the orchestration was successful. I fear that Keel will go far.

No comments: