Nice drive to Corpus Christi for the Texas Democratic Convention. Long drive. Very long drive. One yearns for the days when flying inside Texas was much more affordable.
The advantage, of course, is seeing Texas. “Miles and miles of Texas” as Asleep at the Wheel might sing. (Love those twin fiddles.) (Watch it here, from Austin City Limits in the ’80s)
Interstate 35 traffic frustrates several million people a day. One cannot drive through Austin without a slowdown at any hour of most business days. Once-clear country roads are congested. Clearly that problem needs some attention.
It’s a stirring and interesting sight that greets you coming into Corpus Christi on I-37. From a distance you’ll see the massive wind farm, huge windmills cranking out electricity, almost a vision of a cleaner future through the haze. Closer into town the windmills can be seen through the industrial maze of oil refineries. It probably can’t be photographed well except from the air, but it’s an interesting juxtaposition of the changes Texas lives through, and the challenges ahead. I was reminded of the “successful labor-management negotiation” workshops:
Hope for the future, a picture of reality . . . now, what are the plans to proceed?
I missed most of the activity on Friday while driving. Other blogs and news organizations offer good coverage. Texas Blue carried the full advanced text. (Also see The Austin American-Statesman, the AP story in The Dallas Morning News, and Texas Observer)
White’s speech contrasts quite starkly with Rick Perry’s a few weeks ago, in which he seemed confused by geography, “blaming” White’s “Washington ways” for Houston’s successes under White’s leadership.
Bill White’s speech pleased the crowd. Not fire and brimstone; enough humor that most delegates smiled all the way through, but full of substantive contrasts between Rick Perry’s policies and those White wishes to pursue instead. Parts of the speech carry the mark of brilliant speech writing, especially in the breezy, pleasant way White paints the policy differences. Here’s the end of the speech:
Rick Perry will claim he represents Texas values. But Perry’s Texas is different than our Texas.
In Rick Perry’s Texas insurance and utility rates rise faster than in other states. In our Texas wages will go up faster because we invest in people.
In Rick Perry’s Texas we import nurses and welders and other skilled workers from abroad. In our Texas we will train more Texans to do those jobs.
In Rick Perry’s Texas the State Board of Education injects political ideology into classrooms. In our Texas we’ll put more computers in our classrooms.
In Rick Perry’s Texas state boards and agencies are pressured from the top to serve those who help the Governor’s re-election. In our Texas government will be the servant, not the master, and our customers will be ordinary Texans.
In Rick Perry’s Texas the governor threatens to leave the world’s greatest country. He is content [to] allow our state to compete with Mississippi for lack of social progress. In our Texas other states will follow Texas because we will be the leader.
In Rick Perry’s Texas citizens are stuck in traffic in big cities because the Texas Department of Transportation was doing the bidding of a foreign company promoting the land grab known as the Trans-Texas Corridor. In our Texas we will work across party lines for a new mobility plan, assisting commuters to get from home to work and all communities to get their goods to market.
In Rick Perry’s Texas the best days may be behind us. In our Texas our best days are ahead of us.
Let us go from this convention, staffing phone banks, knocking on doors, and sending emails. Lift up all who share our values, from the courthouse to the statehouse to the double-wide trailer Andrea and I will live in while the Mansion is rebuilt. Describe to friends and neighbors, from both parties, the simple choice we face in the governor’s race.
Rick Perry is in it for Rick Perry. By the grace of God and with your help, I’m in it for Texas, for you.
Bill White, after his speech at the Texas Democratic Convention - R. G. Ratcliff photo, Houston Chronicle blogs
It was one of the most positive speeches I’ve heard at conventions in a long time — takes me back to Mo Udall at the 1976 National Democratic Convention, or Ted Kennedy’s at the 1980 convention. White came down in favor of education, roads and lower taxes, and good government in general. Cleverly, astoundingly, each of his jabs at Rick Perry was on a substantive, policy issue, and not just a one-liner. No lipstick on pigs, not even a silver foot-in-the-mouth (apologies to Ann Richards, but not to Sarah Palin).
You have to wonder what this guy was listening to:
“In delivering one of the most negative speeches by a nominee for Texas governor in modern history, Bill White continues to run a campaign of no substance,” said Perry campaign spokesperson Mark Miner. “Governor Perry’s proven leadership, Texas values, and priorities of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and job creation have made our state the envy of the nation.”
The race is on, and the choices are already very, very clear.