An article in the Texas Tribune today asked, “What will Kay Bailey Hutchison do next?”
http://www.texastribune.org/texas-representatives-in-congress/us-congress/what-will-kay-bailey-hutchison-do-next/. To borrow a line from Don Imus, I suggest that she get off the stage.
I have written previously about my opposition to country-club Republicans leading the party. See my post on Joe Straus – the post-partisan, patrician Speaker. https://mkueber001.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/joe-straus-the-post-partisan-patrician-speaker/. But there is something that I like even less, and that is career politicians who profess not to be. Kay Bailey is guilty on both counts.
There can be no question that Kay Bailey is a country-club Republican. She attended UT as a cheerleader and sorority girl, married a medical student, and earned a law degree. Instead of practicing law, Kay Bailey became a TV reporter in Houston, divorced her husband, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. There she met Ray Hutchison, a Republican bigwig in the legislature who was a partner at the Vinson & Elkins law firm and a candidate for governor of Texas. After Ray’s failed run for governor (against Bill Clements) and her failed attempt to move up to Congress, Kay Bailey took a patronage job in Washington (vice-chair of National Transportation Safety Board) before returning to Texas to become General Counsel of a private bank that subsequently failed. Kay Bailey’s Nixonian political comeback started in 1990, when she was elected to an obscure state-wide position – state treasurer – and then to U.S. Senator in a 1993 special election against an incredibly weak field. This brings us to my second pet peeve.
Lying career politicians
When Kay Bailey ran in the 1993 special election to replace Senator Lloyd Bentsen, she promised to serve no more than two full terms. At the time, term limits were the craze and ultimately became a provision in the Republican’s Contract with America in 1994, so it’s fair to say that this pledge helped her in defeating the appointed Democratic Senator Bob Krueger, who refused to take the pledge.
But when 2006 arrives, after Kay Bailey has served two full terms, she decided to renege on her pledge. She argued that, since the term-limit provision in the Contract with America was one of the few provisions that did not become law, she would not leave the Senate because doing so would unilaterally hurt Texas at the expense of other states in the seniority-driven institution. Didn’t she realize that when she made her pledge? Isn’t that true of every term-limit pledge? It’s so easy to make promises that you don’t have to pay until much later. And it’s so easy to renege on promises that you made many years earlier.
What will Kay Bailey Hutchison do next?
As the article in the Texas Tribune makes clear, the only thing we know for sure is that we can’t rely on what Kay Bailey says. In mid-2009, as she started planning her campaign to defeat Governor Rick Perry, she promised to resign to campaign full-time. Then in November of 2009, she declared:
- “Let me also be crystal clear about one thing: I will be resigning this Senate seat. For all of the good Republicans out there who plan on running for my seat next year, make no mistake. This is going to happen. It just isn’t going to happen until after health care reform and cap and trade are finished. And that will be after the primary.”
Finally, after getting trounced by Perry in the March 3 primary, she reneged again, saying that Obama’s agenda was “taking away the essence of America,” and that the “stakes in the Capitol have never been higher.” Who is she kidding?
I don’t think there is any question that Kay Bailey’s time has passed. She could have gracefully exited the stage with her run for governor, albeit with already diminished integrity, but now she is left the same fate that befell ND Senator Byron Dorgan earlier this year. He read the polls that revealed he was suddenly out of favor, and instead of being kicked out of office, he declined to seek re-election. I expect Kay Bailey will decide to spend more time with her family (which includes two small children).