We Lose One Feisty Dame…
Ann Richards has passed. Her feisty rhetoric and ornery turn of phrase was always fun to watch and to read (and her comic timing was spot on), but it was her spirit and her spunk which illuminated everything she did. Texas bloggers are understandably devastated — here’s a great post with links to some writing about Governor Richards and her role in Texas and beyond. And I found a great interview with Richards on the Vermont Woman website that makes for a fun read.
But, for my money, her speech to the 1988 Democratic National Convention, remains the quintessential Ann Richards moment — and it is just as relevent today as it was back then.
Twelve years ago Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman, Barbara made the keynote address to this convention, and two women in a hundred and sixty years is about par for the course.
But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels….
I was born during the Depression in a little community just outside Waco, and I grew up listening to Franklin Roosevelt on the radio. Well, it was back then that I came to understand the small truths and the hardships that bind neighbors together. Those were real people with real problems and they had real dreams about getting out of the Depression. I can remember summer nights when we’d put down what we called the Baptist pallet, and we listened to the grown-ups talk. I can still hear the sound of the dominoes clicking on the marble slab my daddy had found for a tabletop. I can still hear the laughter of the men telling jokes you weren’t supposed to hear — talkin’ about how big that old buck deer was, laughin’ about mama puttin’ Clorox in the well when the frog fell in.
They talked about war and Washington and what this country needed. They talked straight talk. And it came from people who were living their lives as best they could. And that’s what we’re gonna do tonight. We’re gonna tell how the cow ate the cabbage….
Now, in contrast, the greatest nation of the free world has had a leader for eight straight years that has pretended that he can not hear our questions over the noise of the helicopters. And we know he doesn’t wanna answer. But we have a lot of questions. And when we get our questions asked, or there is a leak, or an investigation the only answer we get is, “I don’t know,” or “I forgot.”
But you wouldn’t accept that answer from your children. I wouldn’t. Don’t tell me “you don’t know” or “you forgot.” We’re not going to have the America that we want until we elect leaders who are gonna tell the truth; not most days but every day; leaders who don’t forget what they don’t want to remember. And for eight straight years George Bush hasn’t displayed the slightest interest in anything we care about. And now that he’s after a job that he can’t get appointed to, he’s like Columbus discovering America. He’s found child care. He’s found education. Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.
Well, no wonder. No wonder we can’t figure it out. Because the leadership of this nation is telling us one thing on TV and doing something entirely different….
Go back and read the whole thing and see if you don’t agree. America has lost a powerful voice, and we are the lesser for it.
Oh, and speaking of Barbara Jordan, op99 reminded me this morning of meta’s find of this gem of a Jordan moment during the Watergate hearings. Whatever they are putting in Texas water, it sure does grow some awesome women, doesn’t it?