Thursday, September 14, 2006
I don't have a lot to say, but it would be wrong for me not to write a little about Ann Richards, who died of cancer last night at the age of 73. I am a pretty rigidly emotionally controlled person, or at least I am when it comes to grief. It's been a long time since I cried over someone's death, as I did this morning when I read this very sad news.
Ann Richards was a fucking giant, a real American in the best sense of the phrase. I am mostly unmoved by political figures, even most of the ones who dominated the Democrats' return to power in the 1990s. There are those who will tell you that Bill Clinton motivated them, back in the day. I never felt it. I remember well his 36-hour wonkathon speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention, and my reaction to it: "What a fucking wanker. Wonder when he'll be running for President." While I was at least a little bit wrong--he was a perfectly good President, although his taste in young flesh is a bit suspect--I was also pretty much right. This is a guy I felt okay about supporting with my vote, but it didn't make me all giddy or anything. While I was happy enough to have him as our President, especially in the wake of the preceding 12 years, and I clearly remember a glowing feeling on the day of his inauguration, this is not a guy who motivated me politically.
Richards' "silver foot" speech at the 1988 convention was, for me, a stark contrast--then and in the 10 years or so of hindsight that followed. That night, I felt led, even though the convention turned out to be a bust that nominated a guy best portrayed by Jon Lovitz. Even in her then-position as state Treasurer of Texas, Richards loomed large, a woman who projected competence and confidence and ease with herself and the future--and a deep and personal understanding of the lessons of the past.
I was always saddened that I never got to vote for her for anything, and the fact that she was deposed as Governor of Texas by the jackass who is now our President is nearly unbearable.
Ann Richards' leadership on civil rights, gender issues, and the great problems of our time was and is to be admired. She was not so much a visionary as a practical applicator of common sense, but still leaves a political legacy of which we as Democrats should all be proud. Her legacy as a human, though, is what I will carry forever--this broad was bigger than life.
"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."
Salud, Ann Richards. And thanks.