I guess grassroots just aren't what they used to be. Today an announced "grassroots" outpouring of support for embattled 30th District Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson amounted to a dozen preachers speaking to 20 human beings and 40 empty folding chairs in the Flag Room at City Hall.
"We have come to say from the grassroots that we support our congresswoman for her years of leadership and the difference she has made in our community," said the Rev. Denny D. Davis, pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Grand Prairie and Southlake.
Organizers insisted the event was spontaneous and not directed in any way by Johnson, who was conspicuously absent.
"I would like to thank all of the others who have joined me this morning for this last-minute show of support," Davis said.
Johnson two weeks ago admitted her office had steered scholarships to her own grandchildren and the children of top aide Rod Givens in violation of the rules of the foundation providing the money. Johnson said she had little personal knowledge of the matter. But her opponent in the November election produced letters signed by Johnson that appeared to ask the foundation to divert money from colleges and universities and give it directly to her and Givens' families instead. Speakers at today's events brushed over the scholar-gyp scandal as a minor foible to be forgiven and forgotten in light of Johnson's larger contributions.
Dr. H.A. Tillmann Hein of Metropolitan Anesthesiology Consultants told the meager crowd that Johnson, at his request, had succeeded in attaching a rider to a bill increasing the amount of money anesthesiologists are paid by Medicare.
There was not a dry eye in the place.
Former city council member Craig Holcomb told how Johnson, in an attempt to help Dallas with an important local earmark issue (Trinity River, anyone?), agreed to be posted to a different congressional committee where she had less seniority.
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I personally almost started sobbing.
In several attempts at thanking those who had assembled on Johnson's behalf, Davis of St. John Baptist gave his own definition of "grassroots."
"I would like to thank the leaders as well as the city council members and legislators and community leaders and others who make up the grassroots community of Dallas who have come today to say we still believe in our congresswoman."
Man, if they're grassroots, I must really be out in the weeds.