Rick Casey laments Kay Bailey Hutchison’s decision to sit out the Governor’s race next year.

Kay Bailey Hutchison had an opportunity to destroy a myth that is crippling Texas.

It is the myth that the only way to win the Republican primary — and therefore to win any statewide office and many regional ones — is to appeal to social conservatives and starve-the-government ideologues.

Hutchison had a chance to show something only a candidate with her profile and credibility, and not least of all her budget, could show: that given a credible choice, a Republican could win a Texas primary by appealing to moderates.

Let’s talk about myths for a minute, shall we? There’s a much bigger myth here, and it’s staring Rick Casey right in the face, but he doesn’t see it. The myth I’m referring to is the myth of Kay Bailey Hutchison’s moderation.

There are a number of definitions of “moderate” these days that the media likes to use. Bipartisanship, dealmaking (witness the slobbering lovefest that was visited on the Senators who brokered the anti-nuclear option deal), publicly rebuking one’s own party on this issue or that, voting against one’s party on this or that controversial and high-profile bill – doing any or all of those things will usually get you the sometimes-coveted label of “moderate”. Can anyone think of a single example, especially in the last four years, of KBH doing any of these things? She’s never said a cross word about Gitmo or Abu Ghraib, she was perfectly willing to go nuclear on filibustering, I can’t think of any nontrivial legislation she’s cosponsored with a Democrat, and as far as I know she’s never once voted against George W. Bush’s wishes. Correct me if I’m wrong here – maybe she’s just so demure and well-mannered that I’ve never noticed when she’s misbehaved. All I’m saying is that all the evidence I can see indicates she’s a good, disciplined, down-the-line Republican, and by any reasonable measure these days that makes her what we now call a “conservative”.

I say there’s two reasons why KBH has been given the “moderate” label: She’s not a rhetorical bomb-thrower, and she didn’t have to campaign for her re-election in 2000. On the first point, her generally quiet style stands in contrast to the gloryhound Phil Gramm, the obnoxious John Cornyn, and the ever-pandering to the base Rick Perry. If that’s all it takes to be a “moderate” these days, then the term truly has no meaning. And even when KBH shows her true colors, such as when her office said she agrees with Karl Rove’s recent statement about liberals and 9/11, nobody in the Texas media picks up on it. (Hey, Rick! There’s a column for you!) And since she had no real opposition in 2000, she never had to run any attack ads. What little presence she had on TV back then was mostly gauzy soft-focus stuff with messages like “Kay Bailey’s your buddy. You like her, don’t you? Sure you do.”

My point is that nobody’s really seen her act like a partisan politician. That doesn’t mean that she isn’t one. It’s instructive to compare how the media treats her with how they treat Comptroller Strayhorn, who’s as big a gloryhound as Phil Gramm ever was but who has been advocating some actual moderate ideas. The difference is mostly Strayhorn’s fault, what with all that “tough grandma” nonsense, but it shows again that it’s all about style and perception. What you actually do, and what you say you stand for, doesn’t much matter.

Now I admit I’m being a little unfair to Casey. He doesn’t say that KBH is a moderate, he simply says that she has appeal to moderates. Which is certainly true, and it’s true for the reasons I’ve given. You have to give KBH credit for being able to say one thing and do another without getting called on it – that’s certainly been the secret of George W. Bush’s success. I have many hopes for 2006, and among them is the wish that Barbara Radnofsky‘s campaign will at least help alter the public’s perception of KBH. It’s well past time that reality caught up with her.

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6 Responses to Mythbusting

  1. blank says:

    Kuff, I think you have this right. I also think Liz Dole has a similar undeserved moderate reputation. That said, below are some more reasons she gets that label. I’m doing this from recollection without comfirming my recollections, so I could be way off here.

    KBH was involved in a national Amber Alert bill, which was bipartisan. I don’t think this makes her a moderate, but the bill at least appeals to moderates and shows that she CAN work with Democrats (when everyone agrees).

    She voted in favor of forming the TSA. So did every other member of the U.S. Senate, but since there were a handful of wingers in the House that voted against, it that makes her more moderate than them. She’s also not as fascist at Benito Mussolini either.

    Once, she claimed to be pro-choice, but her NARAL score is 7 (out of 100), so this is just garbage too.

    She always sounds really concerned in interviews. Though, it is completely fake.


    In 1993, Hutchison and her team of attorney’s – led by Dick DeGuerin, the $700-an-hour hotshot criminal lawyer and defender of Branch Dividian David Koresh – were fighting charges that she had abused her office as state treasurer. The evidence portrayed Hutchison as a termagant who verbally and physically abused her staff, including testimony that while in a tirade, she hit executive assistant Sharon Connally Ammann, the daughter of former governor John Connally, on the shoulder with a notebook binder. Another deputy had been Warren Idsal, the son-in-law of Hutchison’s best friend and mentor, legendary ultra-right-wing Texan and Nixon adviser Anne Armstrong. She fired Idsal and later cited his removal as a threat to a frustrated staffer of her tough approach to personnel management. The evidence also showed she ordered a purge of backup computer tapes containing personal and political documents her executive staff produced for her. Conviction for the Nixon-like charges would have ruined her politically. Hutchison claimed the chief prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, was part of a sinister conspiracy against her.

    She was acquitted in February 1994, when Earle declined to proceed with the case. The jury selection had gone badly for Earle. Jurors were exposed to news media which was pressured, according to former Fort Worth Star-Telegram capitol reporter Joe Cutberth, to slant coverage in Hutchison’s favor. Her own press secretary Dave Beckwith (former Dan Quayle spokesman), and Republican consultant Karl Rove (former Hutchison campaign manager and later top handler to George W. Bush) were heavily quoted spinning the tale of a politically motivated prosecutor. Finally, presiding judge John Onion refused to make a pretrial ruling on whether he would allow the incriminating tapes into evidence. Stripped of the certainty of using key evidence, the prosecution dropped the charges in the hope of starting over later before a less restrictive judge. Judge Onion outmaneuvered Earle, however. He swore in a jury and immediately ordered them to acquit Hutchison. She then proclaimed the forced verdict proof of her innocence.

  2. RJH says:

    The District 22 Political forum and it DeLayWatchFromtheDistrict blog has always held Tom DeLay to the watch what they do not what they say standard. The obverse of this is just what you are getting at here. It is not moderate to vote with the outspoken ‘starve the beast extremists’ and then try to take cover in not having been the activist. It stems from Edmund Burke’s adage “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.” (sic) Texas and the Nation will not rise up again to take back its character until “moderates” become activists for the people and don’t sit back and let the extremists have their way. Nothing about Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s nice image is nice to the people she is failing to represent. She is no nicer than Tom DeLay when it comes down to it. She is just drawn that way.

  3. Burt Levine says:

    WASHINGTON – Arkansas lawyer Leon Holmes narrowly won Senate confirmation to a federal court seat last July, overcoming concerns about his views on abortion and women.

    The vote was 51-46, with six Democrats joining most Republicans in supporting Holmes. Five Republicans – including Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison – voted against confirming Holmes for the lifetime appointment.

    President Bush nominated Holmes, 53, for the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas in January 2003, but the nomination was slowed as attention turned to some of Holmes’ writings on his Catholic faith and rape victims.

    During his confirmation hearing, Holmes apologized for dismissing concerns about rape victims becoming pregnant. In an article written in 1980, Holmes called the concern a “red herring” in the debate over abortion, asserting that pregnancies “from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

    Holmes also told senators that his comparison of the Catholic Church’s subservient relationship with Jesus Christ to a wife’s duties to her husband had been unfairly taken out of context.

    In an article he co-authored with his wife in 1997, Holmes wrote that a wife has an obligation “to subordinate herself to her husband” and “to place herself under the authority of the man.”

    Holmes’ writings were cited by Hutchison as why she was casting her first vote against a nominee put forward by Bush.

    Holmes “doesn’t have the fundamental commitment to the total equality of women in our society,” Hutchison said.

    Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said Holmes has the right to express his religious views, noting his stated remorse over his rape remark.

    “I, for one, accept his apology,” Lincoln said.

    Some supporters contended anti-Catholic bias was at work in the opposition to Holmes, a charge Republicans first raised when the Senate was considering the nomination of former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor as an appeals court judge .

    Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said members of other faiths would never be subjected to the treatment accorded Holmes.

    “Are we going to demand that they come before the Senate Judiciary Committee and renounce their faith before they become a federal judge ?” Sessions asked.

    Holmes was the last of 25 judicial nominees to be voted on by the Senate as part of an agreement struck by Bush and Senate Democrats in May.

    The deal guaranteed that the Senate would vote on 25 mainly noncontroversial nominees if the president agreed to stop using recess appointments to install his most contentious nominees on federal appeals courts while Congress is out of town.

    The others were confirmed with ease before Congress’ July 4 recess.


    During his confirmation hearing, Holmes apologized for dismissing concerns about rape victims becoming pregnant. In an article written in 1980, Holmes called the concern a “red herring” in the debate over abortion, asserting that pregnancies from rape “occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

    In an article he co-authored with his wife in 1997, Holmes wrote that a wife has an obligation “to subordinate herself to her husband” and “to place herself under the authority of the man.”

    Copyright notice: All materials in this archive are copyrighted by Houston Chronicle Publishing Company Division, Hearst Newspapers Partnership, L.P., or its news and feature syndicates and wire services. No materials may be directly or indirectly published, posted to Internet and intranet distribution channels, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed in any medium. Neither these materials nor any portion thereof may be stored in a computer except for personal and non-commercial use.

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  4. ttyler5 says:

    Blank, it’s staring you right in the face, your definition of “moderate” is way off base from the definition the rest of us attach to the word.

    Your use of the NARAL voting index is a case in point. There is nothing “moderate” about NARAL, it is an extremist organization and moderates don’t support the NARAL on a huge catalogue of issues, such as parental notification and partial birth abortion.

    Concerning Ronnie Earle’s politically-motivated “investigation” of Hutchison, Judge Onion threw out Earle’s case because the judge realized it was a fraud and he had no intention of allowing Earle to get away with it.

    That wasn’t the first time — or the last time — Earle has done this sort of thing. Even the Austin American-Statesmen endorsed his *republican* opponent last time around, citing his politically-motivated “investigations” of KBH and others as major reasons to send him packing.

    As for the ridiculous diatribe from you quoted above on Ronnie Earle’s contrived “investigation” of KBH, it is nothing more than a re-hash of a 1994 article by liberal spinmiester Miriam Rozen of Texas Lawyer and the Dallas Observer, a liberal ideological grifter posing as a “journalist.”

    It’s so bad and so spun out of control, it was even re-printed by the Austin Chronicle.

    The entry –and Ms. Rozen — have all the journalistic integrity of a flattened squirrel on Rice Boulevard.

  5. So the question is, “How mainstream and moderate is Senator Rubberstamp?”

    Supporters go out of their way to describe her as both. Supporters of Barbara Radnofsky and her U.S. Senate campaign point out that Senator Rubberstamp is a lot of image with nothing to back it up. You be the judge–here are the mainstream and moderate groups whose agendas she’s rubberstamped with a vengeance:

    The John Birch Society:
    Senator Hutchison supported the interests of the Conservative Index – The John Birch Society 90 percent in Fall 2004, 63 percent in 2002, 80 percent in 2001, and 70 percent in 2000. The John Birch Society tells us on its web site that Republican presidents are more liberal than liberal presidents and that the John Birch Society was one of the major civil rights organizations in Mississippi in the 1960’s–but that their stellar race record has been historically ignored due to liberal media bias.

    Eagle Forum:
    Senator Hutchison supported the interests of the Eagle Forum 80 percent in 2004. On the votes that the Eagle Forum considered to be the most important in 2003, Senator Hutchison voted their preferred position 80 percent of the time, and in 2002 70 percent of the time. The Eagle Forum argues on its web site that DDT is harmless, and that illegal aliens are responsible for bringing malaria and Dengue Fever into the U.S.

    Christian Coalition:
    On the votes that the Christian Coalition considered to be the most important in 2004 , Senator Hutchison voted their preferred position 100 percent of the time. In 2003, Senator Hutchison voted their preferred position 100 percent of the time. In 2001 , Senator Hutchison voted their preferred position 100 percent of the time. In 1999-2000 , Senator Hutchison voted their preferred position 92 percent of the time. The Christian Coalition strongly opposes legislation that “maintains a climate free from coercive religious intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing by Air Force officials.”

    American Conservative Union:
    Senator Hutchison supported the interests of the American Conservative Union 84 percent in 2004, 75 percent in 2003, 100 percent in 2002, 96 percent in 2001, and 96 percent in 2000. The ACU is an outspoken defender of Tom DeLay, and believes that his activities are legal, legitimate, and worthy of emulation.

    Senator Rubberstamp supports each of these groups in word and in deed–moderate? The John Birch Society? Mainstream? The Eagle Forum? I think not.

  6. Othniel says:

    Every voter in Texas knows by now that KBH does not want the job she announced she is seeking.

    Teaxns require Independence as a major Character trait in their representatives. Who made KBH run?

    Has she done anything lately other than carry water for Bill Frist and his masters? Not only has she utterly failed to demonstrate any independence from the Republican Senate leadership (?), the leadership (?) in the Senate has failed to demonstrate any independence from the White House.

    Senator Rubberstamp she truly is.

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