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COLLINS: A Ted Cruz on every corner in Texas

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Gail CollinsHave you noticed how many lawmakers from Texas were doing crazy things during the government shutdown debacle?

We need to discuss this as a matter of simple justice. These days, when you say “Texas” in the context of heavy-breathing Republican extremism, everybody immediately thinks of Sen. Ted Cruz. Which is really unfair when there are so many other members of the state delegation trying to do their part.

I am thinking, for instance, of Rep. Randy Neugebauer, who harangued an innocent park ranger about a shutdown-shuttered war memorial, insisting that the ranger and her colleagues should be “ashamed of themselves.”

Or Rep. Louie Gohmert, who created a mild diversion when he charged that John McCain, an opponent of the shutdown, “supported al-Qaida” in Syria. (McCain said he did not take offense because “if someone has no intelligence, I don’t view it as being a malicious statement.”)

Or Rep. Steve Stockman, who accused the president and House Democrats of “curb-stomping veterans.”

Or Rep. John Culberson, who cried “Let’s roll!” in an apparent belief that shutting down the government was equivalent to resisting 9/11 terrorists.

Or Rep. Pete Sessions, who summed things up rather neatly with: “We’re not French. We don’t surrender.”

See? Share the credit.

The nation keeps searching for signs of a resurgent political center, but there aren’t many hopeful peeps coming out of Texas. The pragmatic Texas Republican establishment is pretty much on its back, hyperventilating.

The old center-right standard-bearer, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, is desperately trying to wipe out his reputation as a mainstream politician while he runs for re-election.

“I don’t know about you, but Barack Obama ought to be impeached,” he told a Tea Party gathering recently, with more fervor for the cause than for grammatical construction.

Texas Democrats, who haven’t won a statewide race in a generation, spent the last decade whimpering and waiting around for all the Hispanic children to grow up and start voting. However, this year, they have an exciting candidate for governor: Wendy Davis, the state senator who starred in that famous 11-hour filibuster against anti-abortion legislation this past summer.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Gov. Rick Perry appears to be planning to run for president again. And since Ted Cruz is pretty clearly planning a run, too, there could be two Texans in the Republican primary debates. Maybe an all-Texas ticket!

While Cruz has been trying to win the hearts of American voters by spreading fear, terror and economic chaos, Perry has been wandering around the country, criticizing other states for their high taxes and bragging about job growth in Texas.

Economic development has, indeed, been impressive, thanks mainly to the state’s plentiful land and cheap housing. On the downside, a large part of Texas seems to be running out of water. Once the presidential debates kick off, perhaps Perry’s opponents could lift their water glasses and make sloshing sounds every time he talks about growth.

Last month, Perry’s in Israel, burnishing his foreign affairs credentials and promoting the Texas economy. Do not expect a critique of the Israeli tax code.

In Texas, there’s so much craziness, it’s hard for a normal crazy to get attention. Imagine an election year with both Perry and Cruz on television every night. To get any airtime, the Texas guys in the House of Representatives would have to call for impeachment while bungee jumping. While waving “Secede!” signs. While carrying unconcealed weapons.

Remember the Alamo.•

__________

Collins is a New York Times columnist. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  1. Can your dog sign a marriage license or personally state that he wishes to join you in a legal union? If not then no, you cannot marry him. When you teach him to read, write, and speak a discernible language, then maybe you'll have a reasonable argument. Thanks for playing!

  2. Look no further than Mike Rowe, the former host of dirty jobs, who was also a classically trained singer.

  3. Current law states income taxes are paid to the county of residence not county of income source. The most likely scenario would be some alteration of the income tax distribution formula so money earned in Marion co. would go to Marion Co by residents of other counties would partially be distributed to Marion co. as opposed to now where the entirety is held by the resident's county.

  4. This is more same-old, same-old from a new generation of non-progressive 'progressives and fear mongers. One only needs to look at the economic havoc being experienced in California to understand the effect of drought on economies and people's lives. The same mindset in California turned a blind eye to the growth of population and water needs in California, defeating proposal after proposal to build reservoirs, improve water storage and delivery infrastructure...and the price now being paid for putting the demands of a raucous minority ahead of the needs of many. Some people never, never learn..

  5. I wonder if I can marry him too? Considering we are both males, wouldn't that be a same sex marriage as well? If they don't honor it, I'll scream discrimination just like all these people have....

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