Have 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.