KERA Arts Story Search

Looking for events? Click here for the Go See DFW events calendar.

Overlooked in All Those Look-Fowards to Texas Books in 2012 …

by Jerome Weeks 17 Jan 2012 11:02 AM

. . . was a non-fiction book about Texas politics and Texas oil money coming out in June. Expect to hear more about it — especially if Rick Perry and Ron Paul continue their campaigns.


… was this one, due out June 4. Because it’s by New York Times columnist Gail Collins, I suspect it’ll get more national attention then all the other non-fiction books by Texas writers combined. I enjoy Collins’ writing (her feminist history, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, was a Christmas gift last year to my wife), but it should be said that her current status as the Times’ op-ed feminist-humorist probably wouldn’t exist without the pioneering (and frustrated) efforts of the late Molly Ivins when she was at the paper. In fact, Collins’ essential stance — “Lord, what entertaining but sometimes frightening nonsense have these politicians provided us today?”  was very much the one Ivins developed toward the Texas Legislature.  After all, the politicos provided her with such rich comic material.

The more, the merrier: Ivins hardly had a monopoly on that cheerfully jaundiced but humane stance. But judging solely from her book’s sub-title — How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda — Collins is also taking on a topic that has been covered before, notably in Bryan Burrough’s The Big Rich: how Texas oil money helped put the state’s extreme conservative thinking into the mainstream of the Republican Party as well as into its anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party wing (funded, in part, by former Texas congressman Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks foundation). Burrough even quotes a line from The Nation: “Virtually every Radical Right movement of the postwar era has been propped up by Texas oil millionaires.”

The line is from 1962.

At any rate, all of that is prologue to this fact: Ms. Collins must certainly hope that Rick Perry and Ron Paul continue their presidential campaigns at least past the Super Tuesday of March 6, when ten state primaries and caucuses will choose their preferred candidate. The argument that Texas cash and Texas thinking (and Texas energy and environmental policies) have had a huge influence on national politics doesn’t depend on the fate of a single politician. But it’ll certainly lend timely credence to As Texas Goes … (and thus, generate more pundit commentary and possible book sales) if Rick Perry or, much more likely, Ron Paul continues to be a major thorn in Mitt Romney’s side all the way to the GOP convention in August.