FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

More articles by:
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS class struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail