What is Kay Bailey Hutchison up to?
(Page 2 of 2)
Certain overtones fall on the ear: “worthy of governing,” “enlightened” leadership, “silly rhetoric.” One thing Kay certainly won’t be, if she wins, is Perry-like. Whether that’s a selling point for Texas voters is another matter.
WHOEVER WINS THE GOP PRIMARY next March 2 should by all rights become governor, not least because the Democratic field is on the paltry side: Tom Schieffer, brother of CBS anchor Bob and a onetime partner in the Texas Rangers baseball club with George W. Bush; a couple of low-profile types knocked out in the last election; and Kinky Friedman, the humorist with the cigar, the mustache, and the black cowboy hat. At a recent upscale birthday party, I stood close enough to Kinky to pinch him. He’s droll and kind of fun, in addition to which polls show him leading the Democratic race. As governor of Texas, though? I think not. The Republican nominee should win. If the party doesn’t split. That’s the issue now — can Rick or Kay heal the inevitable wounds? I’m not sure I would count on it.
A leading Republican strategist tells me, “The race is fraught with peril for Republicans.” It’s in part — to speak crudely — a matter of money, of which there’s only so much out there. Kay and Rick are likely to spend $30 million to $40 million in trying to kill each other. Perry has mentioned $50 million.
How much does that leave for down-ballot Republicans? Not enough, perhaps, during a recession, at a time when urban Democrats in Dallas and Houston have begun keelhauling Republican candidates, helped by Texas’s growing voter pool of minorities.
Kay, I think, wants to soften the tone — dial down the noise level a bit to give the impression that neither good ol’ boys nor religious right types run the show; the trouble being that without the votes of good ol’ boys and religious right types, who as a bonus are solidly pro-business, there’s no Republican Party in Texas.
It all seems to me part and parcel of an argument going on around the country among Republicans: can we “play to the base” and succeed, or should we tweak a few things, rethink matters of policy and emphasis and tone? Kay says, to the latter question, you bet.
“I…want to build a Republican majority,” the senator says. It’s an unexceptionable objective from the Republican standpoint. So what policies get the job done? She enumerates them: better education, better transportation, healthier respect for property rights, opportunities for health care. We get there…how? Not through regulation. She isn’t for that. Not through higher taxes. She wouldn’t go there even if she wanted to, and I don’t think she does, actually. A Hutchison administration, at the end of the day, probably wouldn’t do things very differently than the Perry administration has been doing them. Maybe with kinder, gentler voice — that’s all I can think of, and it isn’t a lot for purposes of differentiation from the man she would unseat. Nor am I sure by any means how many brownie points that would earn her with voters.
AMONG PERRY’S CHARMS is a brashness that draws condescending shakes of the head outside the state, and even, to a certain degree, inside. I don’t see vast numbers of Texans embracing Democratic calls for “civility” or whatever, particularly with the Democrats themselves showing small disposition for handshakes and hugs. From watching the White House and Congress spew rhetorical gas, emit daily whoppers about cost-free economic progress, and backtrack on commitments to overseas friends of the United States, Perry understands well enough the value of policy pushback: how it charges the adrenalin, fortifies the stomach.
I have the sense that, for now, gentility isn’t the political
commodity for which most Texans yearn.
A Rasmussen poll in September, putting Hutchison two percentage points ahead of Perry, showed 80 percent of Texans adverse in some degree to the Obama administration and its ways. Obamacare, climate control, government management of the auto industry (hence threats to the pickup truck), abortion, euthanasia, patriotism, the development of existing energy resources — one needn’t be a Texan to sense chill winds blowing across the land.
Can Kay, all the same, prevail? Sure. She’s got a mission in mind. The mission-minded often pull off their objectives. Rick could as easily — more easily, maybe — win the primary and general election, propelled by brash charisma and growing local animus toward the liberal nostrums he loves to wallop.
Meanwhile a word of counsel seems due. Watching two conservatives cut each other up is likely to prove as enjoyable as a rattlesnake bite. Still less fun will be the job of puzzling out constructive answers to anguished questions about this family feud: Why? What for? Cui bono, Tex?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?