I didn’t hear about Ann Richards until late afternoon. I’m not surprised I’m sad because she’s gone — I’m surprised at how sad I am because she’s gone. I learned who Ann Richards was reading Molly Ivins columns in high school. Ivins immediately became my columnist hero; Richards quickly became my politician hero (not political hero, but one of them). Not to mention, I was comforted to find out that there was another state with politics at least as screwed up as Kentucky’s.
So, yeah, I’m sad. And I have none of my favorite Ivins’ columns at hand here to quote — the collections are all still on my childhood bookshelves back home — all I’ve got is Shrub. So here’s the best I can do, a short excerpt about Ann Richards campaign against W from that book by Ivins and Lou Dubose (but Ivins’ name’s a lot bigger on the cover):
Of Bush, she says, "We didn’t underestimate Bush, but we underestimated the Christian right, which probably reached its zenith that year. We underestimated the NRA (National Rifle Association) and its money. That cost me the male union vote, the good ole boy vote. I lost that over guns. Bush was very firm on the concealed weapons legislation, that he would sign it. I could not do it, in my conscience I could not cross that line. He is governor today because of guns."
She said all along she would veto it (concealed weapons bill passed by the Texas lege in 1993), but the NRA put up a helluva campaign to convince her to sign it; one of their more innovative tactics was to try to persuade the feminist guv that Texas women would feel ever so much safer if they could only carry guns in their purses. When Richards vetoed the bill, she observed wryly, "You know that I am not a sexist, but there’s not a woman in this state who could find a gun in her handbag."
We need more Ann Richardse; sadly, they’re in short supply. I’m raising a glass to her tonight, a woman I always thought of as the Dorothy Parker of politics.