Karen Hughes in Texas

“Regarding the campaigns, I will be a loud and proud supporter of the Republican ticket and of Gov. Perry and of John Cornyn for the U.S. Senate, but I do not expect to be involved in any professional capacity in their campaigns. They have very capable people managing their campaigns and I’ve only got one campaign left in me and as I said I hope it’s the president’s re-election in 2004.”

Karen Hughes to MSNBC, July 8, 2002

“Karen Hughes spent Wednesday stumping for Republican Senate hopeful John Cornyn….Hughes, who resigned in April to go home with her family to Texas but still keeps in close contact with the president, shrugged off questions about whether her presence was a sign that Bush is concerned about the tight race. She said she had offered to campaign with Cornyn in April because the race is important to her personally.”

Associated Press story, Sept. 18, 2002

Earlier this year, when key Bush babysitter and ghostwriter Karen Hughes left Washington, tearfully saying how much she missed Texas, I was one of the few columnists in the country to call Hughes’ bluff.

While others were taking Hughes’ lies at face value, I wrote way back in May, “Hughes recently left the White House amid what some sources tell me were some key differences with Rove and others, as well as marching orders from Bush to help his Texas Republican friends. In other words, don’t believe the BS fed us that Hughes just, sniff-sniff, ‘missed Texas.'” [see <http://www.americaheldhostile.com/ed051802.shtml> or <http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/2002/05/20_Slacker.ht ml> or <http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid>=6580]

Therefore, I was not surprised to see how nasty and negative and desperate Republican Gov. Slick Rick Perry, who was appointed to that seat when Bush took over the White House, Senate candidate John Cornyn, and Lt. Gov. candidate David Dewhurst have become in their campaigns lately. I was not surprised to see Hughes’ name actually appearing in mainstream news articles saying she was campaigning for Cornyn and others, despite her published comments saying she would not do so when she left Washington a few months before.

I have come to expect lies uttered from Republicans not just on occasions, but every time those scumbags open their freaking mouths. I don’t believe one word the Bush-ass-kissing Republicans say [some like U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, one of the few House Republicans to oppose Bush’s war resolution, deserve more respect].

Hughes, in fact, is lying about only being a campaigner for Cornyn. While the Cornyn, Perry, and Dewhurst camps declined to comment, my sources say she has pretty much taken over Cornyn’s campaign from those “capable people” and is heavily involved in advising people running Perry’s and Dewhurst’s races. Bush mastermind Karl Rove is also heavily involved in advising these campaigns – Bush & Co. do not want to lose a top Texas position to the Democrats, which would be seen as a huge SLAAAAPPPPP!! to Bush’s face. Bush himself has wasted more public taxpayers’ dollars by flying several times recently on Air Force One to Texas to campaign for Cornyn, Perry, and Dewhurst, rather than actually work on issues like the economy and national security.

Recent polls in these races have been closer than Bush can believe. Democratic Gov. candidate Tony Sanchez, who has spent millions trying to gain name recognition, recently trotted out a poll by a national firm he hired, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, that has him only three points behind Perry.

Democratic Senate candidate Ron Kirk, a former Dallas mayor, has been neck-and-neck in polls with his Republican opponent for months, a seat Republicans have held for four decades that is seen as a key in the battle to control the Senate. Kirk has also picked up key endorsements like the Austin American-Statesman. Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate John Sharp, a former state comptroller who even Republicans like former baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan support, has also been very close in the polls.

A big sticking point with independent voters in Texas is the state’s budget crisis that Bush left in his wake to steal the White House. Estimates run as high as a $12 billion shortfall next year. Bush squandered the surpluses he was fortunate to have as governor of Texas with corporate tax cuts and increased spending on prisons. Does that sound familiar, after Bush took our federal budget from having surpluses under Clinton to deficits again?

That’s why you see Perry running negative attack ad after negative attack ad against Sanchez. Most of the ads, such as Perry claiming a bank in which Sanchez was a director was involved in criminal activity, have been blatantly false. That’s the kind of dirty campaigning Bush and Rove learned from Bush’s father’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, who publicly confessed his sins before he died. Bush and Rove and Hughes, who can engage in lying and dirty campaigning with the worst of them, have never confessed such sins and have no plans to do so.

Sanchez has run some negative ads against Perry – there is so much material here – but also more with a positive message, telling his ideas. Sanchez has mostly hit Slick Rick with helping out his campaign contributors at the expense of average taxpayers, including a horrendous insurance crisis in which companies that contributed mucho bucks to Perry raked over ratepayers with large increases that weren’t justified.

Sanchez has also rightly questioned Slick Rick becoming a multimillionaire during his political career by helping out right-wing business yahoos like James Leininger, a key contributor to Perry’s campaigns. Perry said it was mere coincidence that he purchased 2,800 shares of stock in a hospital equipment company controlled by Leininger, Kinetic Concepts, in 1996 on the same day a California investment group started buying 2.2 million shares of the company, boosting the stock’s value. Sure, it was a coincidence that Perry made $38,000 on that stock deal alone.

Slick Rick also claimed coincidence that a property he bought in 1996 was sold for a $235,000 profit in 1999 just six days after Bush signed a bill that raised the value of the land by allowing more development.

In probably Slick Rick’s boldest move, he appointed former Enron Chairman Max Yzaguirre as chairman of the Public Utility Commission in June 2001, a few months before the Enron scandal broke. The day after Slick Rick appointed Yzaguirre, he accepted a $25,000 campaign contribution from Enron CEO Kenneth Lay. Yzaguirre presided over some 30 cases involving his former company in a clear conflict of interest before he was finally forced to resign from the PUC.

Sanchez has also rightly pointed out how under Perry, the number of low-performing schools has risen and classroom sizes have become more overcrowded. In 1999, Slick Rick even supported slashing $250 million from early childhood and ninth-grade dropout prevention programs to pay for a sales tax cut.

Sanchez is not the only candidate to criticize Slick Rick. Green candidate Rahul Mahajan, who at least admits there are differences between Democrats and Republicans, has hammered Perry on his inability to stop industrial plants from polluting, support of the death penalty, and poor healthcare record. Earl O’Neil, an independent running for Texas governor and owner of a small oil business in Abilene, has also soundly criticized Perry and Bush. On his Internet site, O’Neil says, “Under the last two Republican governors, we have witnessed a subtle move to eliminate smaller oil and gas producers and with good success. In 1990, there were 16,000 Texas oil and gas producers, today there are approximately 7,000 and losing more each day.”

Besides Perry’s and Bush’s favoritism to Big Oil, O’Neil opposes free-trade agreements like NAFTA they support. “I do not believe NAFTA has helped the Texas farmer….Under the Republican farm bill, most subsidies are shared by 10 percent of the farmers…..Agriculture today is a classic example of Republican corporate theory.”

In response, all Slick Rick and Conniving Karen and Cancerous Karl can do is attack the messenger, which is usually aimed at some lying ad about Sanchez. It’s amazing they get away with this.

Moving to the Senate race, Democrat Kirk has pretty much taken the high road, while being called one of the worst labels Republithugs can throw, a “liberal,” in almost every ad Cornyn-Hughes-Rove does. [Sharp is called the same label in ads.] The Republithugs have also tried to call Kirk a high-priced corporate attorney, which he was at one point, but Kirk also balanced that by being a supporter of civil rights and the ACLU. Kirk once spoke at a Dallas ACLU banquet I co-chaired, something Cornyn would never dream of doing. Kirk is nowhere near a liberal – his Green opponent Roy Williams is more so – Kirk is a moderate who tries to find a balance. He’ll make a terrific senator – that body desperately needs at least ONE African-American.

Meanwhile, Cornyn has made race an issue, as his press spokesman at one point called the top of the Democratic dream ticket, which features a Hispanic, African-American, and Anglo, while the top three Republicans are all white, a “racial quota system.” Cornyn also refused to return large contributions made to him from Enron and Worldcom executives, made decisions favorable to keeping certain Worldcom and Enron records closed, and declined to release public records that would show who is contributing to Cornyn’s own political slush fund.

While Kirk has campaigned on issues like saving Social Security, reducing the price of prescription drugs, and working on bipartisan measures to create jobs, Cornyn’s main answer is to say he will do whatever Bush-Cheney want him to do, such as support a blood-for-oil war in Iraq, put oil wells in national parks, and invest Social Security funds in the stock market. As attorney general, Cornyn mostly focused on local matters like child support and consumer complaints, which are not exactly federal issues a U.S. senator confronts. He has little background in national affairs, while Kirk headed one of the country’s largest cities and has been involved in federal committees like the Census one.

The BS is flying in political campaigns across the country. The White House is running scared at the thought of Jeb Bush losing the Florida governor’s race and is heavily involved in that campaign, to mention one other. But as they say in Texas, the BS is bigger – and more apparent – here.

JACKSON THOREAU is co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The 110,000-word electronic book can be downloaded at http://www.geocities.com/jacksonthor/ebook.html or at http://www.legitgov.org/we_will_not_get_over_it.html. Thoreau can be emailed at jacksonthor@justice.com.