By MANIFESTO JOE
Among infamous serial killers, they're often named Wayne (Something or Other). Among Texas politicians, they seem to be named Tom (DeLay, Craddick).
If anyone comes close to Tom DeLay as an embodiment of the crypto-fascist outfit that the Texas Republican Party has become, that person must now be state House Speaker Tom Craddick.
This from various news sources: Craddick, when confronted Friday night with motions to remove him as speaker, declared that his power to disregard such motions is "absolute." His parliamentarian and her assistant resigned and were replaced after a two-hour recess. Many Republicans were angered and in shock. Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, was quoted: "I knew we had a speaker. I didn't know we had a dictator."
The New York Times reported:
"During the five-hour spectacle, Mr. Craddick outmaneuvered his opponents, lawmakers who tried to overtake the speaker’s podium were physically restrained and the House parliamentarian resigned before the House adjourned shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday. ...
"Democrats and Republicans complain that Mr. Craddick, Republican of Midland, has ruled with an iron fist. They say his style often forces them to vote against the interests of their districts."
Craddick is an almost 40-year legislator from Midland -- recall, just incidentally, that this is the flat, treeless, right-wing oilfield paradise where George W. and Laura Bush spent much of their undoubtedly idyllic childhoods.
He now faces an open mutiny within his own right-wing party, and for good reasons. He has faced an insurgency within Republican ranks for a while. No Democrat would ever have trusted him further than the next Republican lobbyist. But he has a well-earned reputation as a despot, and even the Republicans are rebelling against the megalomania that is in full display now.
Craddick's history as a tin-pot Napoleon is a long one. In '03, when the newly Republican-controlled Legislature was busy Gerrymandering the state's congressional districts, some of the Democrats in the Legislature split for Ardmore, Okla., where they could hole up and prevent a quorum. They said they actually had to cross the state lines to do this. The reason: Herr Craddick had ze state troopers out looking for zem, to bring zem in, unter ze orderz. Achtung.
Anyway, the House and Senate eventually managed, with then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's invaluable help, to Gerrymander Texas to a congressional Republican majority for the next couple of generations.
DeLay was eventually indicted on criminal charges stemming from alleged campaign finance violations. The trial is pending. And, let us not forget Craddick's role as one of DeLay's state Republican toadies. They were very tight back then.
But a general thing to ponder is the Republican Party's incredible talent for jacking itself, and the country, around, and usually both at once. In Texas, the problems with Craddick began right after the Republicans gained control of the state House for the first time in 130 years.
Democrats can be quite exasperating at times. But one thing I've noticed about Republicans, when they are taken seriously and voted into office: When given power, it takes them about one-tenth of the time to shit their britches.
I sincerely hope the situation can get better, and without so many diapers at public expense.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.