Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2006 Issue

Can A Writer Be A Governor?

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Here is what is really scary about Kinky's candidacy: he is running as the commonsense candidate. Think about that one. Here is a man dressed in black, with a big cowboy hat, boots and unlit cigar, writer of some of the more offensive sounding musical titles imaginable, an outlaw and an oddball, and author of strange fictional characters, offending people for almost four decades. He patterns his campaign on former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura's campaign in Minnesota, a candidacy even stranger than his own. And yet this odd and eccentric man is the candidate of common sense. What does it say about the current state of our politics when a man who has spent a lifetime being weird is the candidate who displays the most common sense?

Can he win? Not likely. The Republican governor is a heavy favorite for reelection. No one wins statewide office in Texas any more without an "R" after their name. In another era, this iconoclastic, individualistic Texan might have had a strong appeal. This is not your father's Texas. This is Tom DeLay's Texas. Where rugged individualism was once the order of the day, rugged conformism is the call of today. Yesterday's cowboys are today's sheep. Conformity to acceptable "conservative" beliefs is the overriding value. Don't be different. Texas' colorless governor, with Hollywood attractive hair and an Ivy League countenance, is more the image of the Lone Star State today than some guy with boots and a cowboy hat. Kinky is a relic, the image of what used to be, what Texas puts on its travel brochures and uses in its advertisements, not what Texans choose for leaders. Texas has a legislature handpicked by Tom DeLay and his money, and if you want to see the personification of 21st century Texas, look at his picture, not Kinky's.

The old cowboy singer hopes a divided race will enable him to succeed. This race not only has two major party candidates, but another strong independent as well (the State Controller and mother of recent presidential spokesperson Scott McClellan). Like Jesse Ventura, Kinky Friedman hopes this split will enable him to sneak in. Perhaps, but I don't think this will happen unless there is a major change of heart among Texans, a return to those independent roots of the cowboy days. Anything is possible, but not everything is likely. Governor Kinky is not likely, but it would be an amazing sight to behold, a trip down Texas' long-forgotten memory lane. He wants to make us all proud to be @ssholes from El Paso, or wherever it is in Texas we come from.

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