Officeholders Flee Bigfoot in East Texas!

palinkillsbigfootDescribed as “enormous and black” on the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy web site, Bigfoot is stalking East Texans. And their elected officials are retreating to the Republican Party. Coincidence? I think not.

Back in September, a Big Thicket hunter (buckwild107 on Youtube) took some pictures of a Bigfoot-like creature hopping across a clearing. He posted them to Youtube with the following introduction:

“Bigfoot in Hardin County? Pictures from my deer blind…you decide.”


This led the Beaumont Enterprise’s terrific Bayou blog to note that Sarah Palin had already one-upped the Hardin County Bigfoot posse:  Palin bagged a Bigfoot!

You can’t make this stuff up – by stuff I mean what the yahoos make up. No sooner does America get an African-American president than certain folk start seeing “enormous and black” monsters in the woods. And, predictably, the land of the yellow dogs just turns yellow. State Rep. Chuck Hopson is elected from the area between the Bigfoot sitings and the location of the Texas Bigfoot Research Community’s 2009 convention in Tyler. Hopson abandoned his colleagues to join the Bigfoot Brigade, otherwise known as the GOP.

Back in the 70s, my first big scoop as a reporter (credited by Texas Monthly, March, 1977,  in “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged”) involved U.S. District Judge James Noel. When another federal judge ordered the desegregation of Houston schools in 1970, Noel transferred his sons out of the Houston district and into an all-white district next door. When Noel later wound up with the desegregation case, he was disqualified because of his demonstrated bias.

Hopson reminds me of Judge Noel. President Barack Obama is to Hopson what the presence of minorities at Houston’s Lamar High School was to Noel. Hopson is an affable guy. I don’t think he’s racist. He just believes his political future is safer among them.

After years of corruption and failed policies, Republicans were drubbed in the last two elections. They’ve been forced to take refuge in a kind of Southern Reconstruction-era racist refuge. Gov. Rick Perry’s secession talk is aimed at building such a barricade of bigots. It’s a long-term loser, sidling up to cranks, teabaggers and cross-burners. Beyond the racist fringe, few moderate Texans will want to join such a club. And the GOP is giving up all hope of attracting Hispanic and African-American voters.

Among Texas political insiders, everyone knows there was a small but still significant racist backlash to Obama. Elected officials hear the ugly talk from some of their constituents. Racist, anti-Obama emails are spreading faster than the swine flu. Public discussion of the issue makes people nervous, I know, but we have to talk about it.

Once again, I don’t believe Hopson’s motivation is racist. I think it is a lack of courage. Rather than stand up for what he knows is right, he’s abandoning what he believes to try and save his political future.

Hopson doesn’t have the strength or the integrity to stand up to the special interests, interests that are cynically exploiting racist fears to hide their pillaging of Texas’ future.

There are legitimate policy arguments among Republicans and Democrats. I am not arguing that those differences can be reduced to issues of race. They can’t. Racists are a minority, which makes it all the sadder that the GOP leadership panders to them.

Chuck Hopson told his colleagues that he’s going to vote as he’s always voted. In other words, with regard to legitimate issues, he’s still a Democrat. Then why did he switch parties? I’m afraid the parallel with Judge James Noel holds true.

With Obama in the White House and Bigfoot in the Big Thicket, the yahoos are restless. If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. But Texas politics today is no teddy bear’s picnic. A real Bigfoot would be the least of our problems.

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About Glenn W. Smith

Glenn W. Smith has spent the past 30 years in journalism and politics, where he’s made a name for himself as a writer, campaign manager, activist, think tank analyst and, as Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says, a “legendary political consultant and all-around good guy.” “There’s no one like him,” says author George Lakoff. CNN commentator Paul Begala says, “He has unmatched experience, a graceful pen (or pixel nowadays) and deep insight into the best and worst of us.” Novelist Sarah Bird speaks of his “lucid and lyrical” prose. And, she says, he’s fun. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington says Glenn writes with “grace and abundant humor” and “uses his colorful experiences in Texas to enlighten us all.”

Smith led Ann Richards’ successful 1990 campaign for Governor of Texas. He worked for former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Earlier, Smith was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post. He’s coordinated national campaigns for groups such as In 2004, he authored the highly acclaimed book, The Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction. He also wrote Unfit Commander, a book that detailed George W. Bush’s mysterious disappearance from military service.

In 2004, Smith was featured in the film, Bush’s Brain, a documentary about Karl Rove. Smith provided commentary on Rove’s role as then-President Bush’s senior advisor. He has made numerous media appearances with Chris Mathews on Hardball, Joe Scarborough, Brit Hume, and many others. He writes a regularly for top national web sites, including FireDogLake and Huffington Post.

As a senior fellow at George Lakoff’s prestigious Rockridge Institute in Berkeley he studied, wrote and taught on the power of metaphor and narrative in political communications. He also lectured on religion and politics at the Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley. As a sponsor and organizer, he has pulled together numerous national events with progressive religious leaders. He also organized a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in New York City as well as “Freedom and Faith” bus tours, which was a nationwide campaign for social justice and progressive values.

Smith’s play, Double Play, which explored American Western myths and legends, was held over to sold-out audiences. He’s even written and performed songs in the Americana tradition, such as his best-known song, “Helping Marty Robbins,” a tribute to his hometown, Houston.

Most recently, Smith is the creator of DogCanyon, a political and cultural web site covering state, national and global issues from a Texas perspective. DogCanyon is an exhilarating and unique site that gets the connections between politics and culture and explores both the personal side of politics and the ups, down, craziness and beauty of “life its ownself,” as humorist Dan Jenkins would say. DogCanyon offers heartfelt personal essays, hard-hitting political analysis, and, most importantly, laughs.

As Paul Begala said, Smith writes in “the finest, firmest, fearless tradition of Texas essayists like Molly Ivins.”