Former Texas governor and perhaps the quickest-political-wit-on-her-feet-ever, Ann Richards, died yesterday.
I don't go in big for heros/heroines, but she was definitely one of mine. The fact that That State gave us Richards, Austin, Bob Wills, and Molly Ivins makes me almost capable of forgiving it for saddling us with Dubya.
She was, in my mind, exactly the sort of progressive politician that we need here in Alaska: smart, fiery, and unfailingly funny. Lord knows the lefties (myself included) could use a earnest-ectomy. Her governorship really set the standard in a state whose redneckness rivals (and perhaps even dwarfs) our own.
But rather than give you a history lesson*, I'll just let some of her quotes speak for her.
She is most famous for her quote skewering Dubya's daddy, George the First, at the Democratic National Convention.**
“Poor George [Bush], he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”
Or consider Ann Richards on How to Be a Good Republican:
"1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault.
2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.
3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.
4. You have to believe that AIDS victims deserve their disease, but smokers with lung cancer and overweight individuals with heart disease don't deserve theirs.
5. You have to appreciate the power rush that comes with sporting a gun.
6. You have to believe...everything Rush Limbaugh says.
7. You have to believe that the agricultural, restaurant, housing and hotel industries can survive without immigrant labor.
8. You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.
9. You have to believe society is color-blind and growing up black in America doesn't diminish your opportunities, but you still won't vote for Alan Keyes.
10. You have to believe that pollution is OK as long as it makes a profit.
11. You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.
12. You have to believe Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde were really faithful husbands.
13. You have to believe speaking a few Spanish phrases makes you instantly popular in the barrio.
14. You have to believe that only your own teenagers are still virgins.
15. You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.
16. You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.
17. You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.
18. You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher."
"I believe in recovery, and I believe that as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it."
"I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you need to know what a real Texas accent sounds like."
*For a full transcript of her 1988 speech go here. You can even listen to the .mp3.
**All the big press orgs will be writing the history of her career. I highly recommend reading Molly Ivin's* description of how she beat a wealthy Texas rancher to become governor -- it is the funniest piece of political reportage I have ever read.