there's a man of conviction
Well, I just got back from a very entertaining taping of Texas Monthly Talks. (By "entertaining," I mean what my colleague The Bitter One summed up as, "It just goes to show that if politicians have something to say that they won't be lying about, they won't say it at all.") Not to call anyone a liar, but, well, watching Evan Smith interview Speaker of the Texas House Tom Craddick was an exercise in political theater of the absurd. In other words, exactly what we wanted.
Everybody who's anybody was, of course, there. If you're a super-committed Republican, a Texas political reporter, or a grad student from Texas, that is. And, really, we didn't expect to hear anything new from the Speaker. Here are some things we learned, though, with brief commentary:
- The Speaker views his job as serving the state, not political interests. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around this one.
- Allowing gambling will be hard to justify this session given the budget surplus. Great! But wait a minute.... Does that mean that the Speaker thinks it would be okay to fund our schools, etc. with gambling funds if we were in a budget shortfall? Um.....
- The people of Andrews wanted to have a nuclear waste facility in their county, and it's really not that objectionable since it's "low-level" nuclear waste. Not only that, but "we're" looking at putting a couple more of these type of things out there. Really? 'Cause, you know, it just so happens that my daddy is from Andrews, so I read the news from out there when all this happened, and it didn't seem like everybody was 100% gung-ho, yay-rah on having a nuclear waste dump near their homes. Maybe it was just me. Or maybe it's that low-level nuclear waste really does sound pretty unpleasant/dangerous/not-in-my-backyard-esque.
- The Speaker has nothing but respect for the Texas Constitution. Except, apparently, when one wants to enact a suspension of some provisions of the Constitution on the basis of a legilative vote. I'm sure that's just a detail.
Troubling instances of congnitive dissonance aside, the most interesting aspect of the taping for me was observing Evan Smith's skills as an interviewer. Working without notes, he asked a wide variety of great questions, carefully probing for information, and knowing when the Speaker wasn't going to give him anything else. It was certainly more entertaining than your average political science interview.This episode of Texas Monthly Talks airs on KLRU next Thursday, March 9, at 7pm. If you're elsewhere in Texas, check your local listings.