Trivial Pursuits in Texas


Trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.

— Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader

Forget substance.  It’s all about the trivial.  The more significant the issue, the more significant the trivial becomes.  It all comes to mind when one considers the issues in which the trivial has been introduced in order to deflect attention from the substantive.  Consider Chris Christie and Wendy Davis.

One of the great comic operas of today is in New Jersey.  The libretto is taken straight from the Nixon years-what did Chris Christie know and when did he know it.  It pertains, of course, to the closure of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge.  The lanes were reportedly closed in retaliation for the failure of Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, to support Mr. Christie’s bid for a second term as governor of New Jersey.   The instructions to close the lanes were sent to David Wildstein at the Port Authority, by Mr. Christie’s former aid, Bridget Anne Kelly. Mr. Christie, denied knowledge of the instructions to close the lanes. In initial reports it was stated that the man who ordered the closures was one of Mr. Christie’s friends in high school but Mr. Christie promptly denied that.  He acknowledged having been in high school at the same time as Wildstein but said:  “David and I were not friends in high school.  We were not even acquaintances in high school “Lest anyone misunderstood that, the Governor also said: “You know, I was the class president and athlete.  I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time.” A little research helped him remember a bit more about David. In late January the governor’s office sent out a two-page memorandum that sought to discredit David.  Among other things, it alleged that while in high school David had brought suit over a school board election, and had also been “publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior. ” The remembrances of things past are trivial but, the governor hopes, will cast doubt on David’s credibility.

The governor’s attacks on David Wildstein were partly in response to the peculiarly unlawyer like letter sent to the press by Wildstein’s lawyer.  In the letter the lawyer said there was evidence the governor was complicit in the lane closures.  He forgot to say what the evidence was.

Meanwhile, in Texas the trivial has overshadowed the race to see who will replace Governor Rick Perry.  That race, it will be recalled,  is between Greg Abbott, a Republican and Wendy Davis, a member of the Texas legislature and a Democrat.  (Although each of them faces a primary each of them is certain to win.) Wendy became famous when she conducted an 11 hour filibuster to block the Texas legislature’s attempt to further restrict abortions in that state.

Mr. Abbott has served for 5 years as the Texas Attorney General.  During his tenure he has sued President Obama 27 times.  In campaign speeches he often says his routine is that he goes into the office, “I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.”  He has sued the EPA 17 times in opposition to air quality standards and greenhouse gas emissions.  He doesn’t think carbon dioxide is a pollutant since it is emitted by humans.  (He has expressed no opinion on flatulence.)  He has sued the Department of Health and Human Services four times and the Justice Department twice.  Himself a paraplegic, he has argued in court against the requirement that cities be required to provide wheelchair access to buildings on the grounds that the Americans With Disabilities Act is unconstitutional.  Those are just a few of the suits he has brought against the government.

Wendy Davis will probably not be elected as Texas’s next governor.  Since she is running in Texas she probably wouldn’t be elected irrespective of what was disclosed last month.  The disclosures, however, further dim her chances.  They do not concern anything that pertains to the welfare of the citizens of that state.  They do not pertain to what she might do as governor, questions that would seem important in electing a governor.  They pertain to trivial misrepresentations made by her about events in her life that took place many years ago.  They pertain to her description of her life as a young mother, descriptions that generated sympathy for the difficulties she encountered in getting to where she is now.  Many of those events we have learned, were exaggerated or untrue.  They are also irrelevant. She was not divorced when she was 19.  She was separated at age 19 and divorced when she was 21. She said she lived in a mobile home following her divorce but it turns out that was only for a few months.  She said she financed her own undergraduate education with grants, loans and scholarships and then went on to Harvard Law School.  She didn’t disclose that her husband paid her tuition at Harvard.  She will not be elected because Texans wouldn’t want to have a governor who lied about how long she lived in a trailer or how old she was when she got divorced even though non-Texans view those things as trivial.  They’d rather have a governor who is wrong on all issues of substance but has not misrepresented his background.  As New Jersey already has, Texas will end up getting exactly the kind of a governor it deserves.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

Christopher Brauchli is an attorney in Boulder, Colorado.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving