You Can Take the U.S. Trade Representative Out of Dallas, But You Can't ... Well, You Know

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Late yesterday, as the boy grew fidgety from yet another day stuck at home, we flipped on the teevee hoping to find something interesting, educational. Which meant: No Disney Channel, no nonsense. A few flips later, and there we were on C-SPAN2, listening to former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk address the House Ways & Means Committee -- his first trip to the Hill since his confirmation hearing almost two years ago.

I know, right -- exciting stuff, especially for the kids. But there was the U.S. Trade Representative yet again mentioning his tenure as Dallas mayor -- this time, at the prompting of his old friend Sam Johnson of the good ol' 3rd District, who, like the rest of the panel, wanted to know why the Obama Administration hasn't finalized trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Kirk and Johnson are old pals: "He and I used to bet dinners," Johnson told his colleagues, "and he still owes me one."

After some friendly back-and-forthing -- "Too bad you weren't at the Super Bowl," Johnson told Kirk, "it might have been a better place to go" -- Johnson piled on the questions concerning the agreements. Said the congressman: "Mr. Ambassador, as a former mayor of Dallas, I know you're well aware of the benefits of trade to our area." Dallas, he reminded, is "the ninth-largest exporter in the U.S." Now, Johnson said, "we're spinnin' our wheels." But "if you get these three agreements signed, you won't have to buy me dinner."

To which Kirk replied, after some more ribbing: "I was incredibly honored and humbled when President Obama asked me to serve the administration this capacity. And, frankly, there were a lot people who were as little bit skeptical of me coming from Dallas for the reasons you articulated -- we believe in trade. We understand it. We've seen the impact of it in our city, our state. Texas is the No. 1 exporting state in the country. You don't need to convince me how important these agreements are to our economy." But, said Kirk, he's not the U.S. trade representative for Texas -- but for "the entire country," much of which believes the U.S. "hasn't benefited from trade."

You can watch the whole two-plus-hours hearing here. The Johnson bit begins around the 35-minute mark. Another highlight appears around the 1:07:49 mark, when Kirk yet again talks about his days as mayor, when "I always tried to govern myself with one principle -- that the truth is always an option."

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.