The New York Times’ Frank Bruni filed “Texas’ Toxic Heart” for Thursday’s Times, a continuation of his obsession (as well as his paper’s) with that stubbornly red state and the wicked Republicans (like Sen. Ted Cruz, whom he recently apologized to) who run it with an iron fist, apparently.
There are states worse than Texas -- states even more regressive, states even more oppressive, redder states and madder states and states without its complicated charisma and pockets of charm.
But is there a state more meanspirited these days? A state prouder of its divisiveness? A state more committed to vilifying an enormous share of its citizens and to making sure they have no say? In those regards, Texas has plenty of competition but no superior, at least not of late.
Bruni clarifies he doesn’t mean everyone in Texas, just Republican leaders, which makes it better. He whined:
Not a week goes by when I don’t smack up against -- or get smacked down by -- fresh news of their gratuitous mockery of President Biden, their excessive provocation of Democrats and their unapologetic suppression of democracy….
A good thing no one on the left ever made fun of Trump, tried to provoke Republicans, or squelched free expression through Big Tech censorship, right?
That was part of what Steven Pedigo covered in an excellent guest essay in the Opinion section of The Times this week. It’s titled “Texas Is the Future of America,” and he spends most of its first half focused on economic and demographic matters. Then comes this:
Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican Party have embraced a top-down policy agenda that is backward-looking, excludes huge swaths of Texas’ citizenry and runs against the grain of many of its new stakeholders’ values. They are looking to shore it up by a combination of gerrymandering, voter suppression and relentless cultural warfare.
Bruni presumably agreed with the above take.
He talked of “suppression” by Republicans in the same column he faulted Texas for not restricting the lives of its citizens through vaccine passports. As for the state’s new abortion law:
Intent on turning Texas citizens against one another, he signed a horribly restrictive abortion law, being challenged by the Biden administration, that encourages vigilantism by abortion opponents.
This is much of Republican politics now -- simultaneously seething with rage and siring it -- and deep in the toxic heart of Texas, it thrives.
Odd how Texas Republicans are always villainous, while Texas Democrats, who have a thuggish history of trying to put Texas Republican politicians in prison on trumped-up charges, are never called out for their actual vile partisanship.
Bruni may still be mad that his April 2018 optimism for congressional Democrats in Texas failed to pan out. Under the headline “Will Democrats Win the House? Ask Texas,” then-columnist Bruni showed his vulnerability to partisan thrills: “....There’s an unusual bounty of Democratic candidates of all kinds….It has brought engaging new figures and impassioned new voices into the arena. On Nov. 6, in Texas and elsewhere, we’ll see how much that matters.”
Not a lot, actually.
Bruni rooted for liberal darling Beto O’Rourke under the gushing headline, “Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto Is Coming” and the accompanying text box: “The Senate race in Texas just might be the happiest political fable ever.”