Last Thursday, New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks said Republicans, smarting from Mitt Romney's defeat, have learned their lesson and are undergoing what Brooks described as a "glasnost," a term defined by Merriam-Webster as, "a Soviet policy permitting open discussion of political and social issues and freer dissemination of news and information."
Brooks bases his dewy-eyed hopes on a speech he didn't hear by Florida Senator Marco Rubio when Rubio won some Jack Kemp prize for rich people recently. Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants, said during the speech that he felt sorry for the Hispanic workers at the hotel where the event was held. For that he got a big hand from the 1-percenters in attendance.
Brooks was all wow about it, like it showed that 1-percenters have decided to have a heart, too, so now the Latinos will vote for them. Maybe. Sounds a bit transparent, but who am I to say if it's a right direction?
It's a direction. And, you know, catching up with the Soviet Union on freedom of expression: couldn't happen to a nicer group of guys, eh? Now that we're about to be 13 years into the 21st century, the GOP decides to hold its nose and take the big leap into the 20th. If we listen hard, somewhere far behind us we should be able to hear a splash.
But what about Texas? Between talk of secession, calls to raise local taxes in support of treason and electing Ted Cruz to the Senate, we've got the Tea Party steam locomotive all revved up ready to haul us straight back into the 19th century, have we not?
So what's that timeline again? Obama Democrats, 21st century. Marco Rubio Republicans, 20th century. Us in Texas and Ted Cruz, 19th century.
Every time I hear Cruz described as the "intellectual heavyweight of the Tea Party," I think, yup, that's the problem all right.
Maybe Florida Republican politics has enough wriggle-room in it to allow a Rubio to dial back. But not here. We have to remember, we just elected Cruz and a passel of people like him not because they ran to the right of Democrats. They ran to the right of Rick Perry. Do you know what the-right-of-Rick-Perry even looks like? It's the straight-up wiggy ward, man. Here comes Nurse Ratchet with our pills.
Cruz is right in there with Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, who wants to raise local taxes to support troops to do battle with U.N. soldiers led by Barack Obama, when Obama launches the inevitable Lubbock Shock and Awe offensive.
Listen to the Cruz's words to a posse of Midland County Republican women last July:
"There is nothing for which I am better now nationally than being one of leading defenders in the country of U.S. sovereignty and standing up to fight against the U.N., and I intend to lead the fight to ensure that not one drop of our sovereignty is ever given away or the Constitution."
The point, maybe, is not so much that he said he thinks the U.N. is out to take over America, and, by grim extension, Lubbock. The point is that he said it and then we elected him to the U.S. Senate. With that mandate in hand, this is one of a handful of people who will run the Texas GOP in the next four years and, by grim extension, Texas.
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Former Dallas Mayor (and former Dallas Observer columnist) Laura Miller has a thing on The Dallas Morning News op-ed page today about how she thinks outgoing U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison should be the News' "Texan of the Year," an honor I fail utterly to comprehend. But whatever. Miller makes the point that Hutchison was always a reasonable, sentient, rational human being, to whom you could talk.
She was also, of course, a pillar of the Republican Party until Rick Perry stomped her into the mud in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. Perry did it by coming out for secession, for sending Texas troops into Mexico and for a bunch of other completely wiggy Tea Party crap.
Which, apparently, we loved. Texas embraced Perry so hard after he came out nut-wise that Hutchison more or less conceded the race even before the vote. Now, of course, the Tea Party is readying the tumbrels and the guillotine for Mr. Perry, a nicer man than whom to whom it couldn't happen, whom.
So maybe Brooks will be right and the national Republican Party, chastened by its failure at the polls, will try to trend more modern or, perhaps more accurately, less atavistic. I think that trend, if it happens, will leave Texas in an even worse pickle. Four years from now, Washington will be sending us missives saying, "Yeah, please do secede."