Former Austin American-Statesman columnist Dave McNeely retired from the Austin fishwrapper several years ago, but he still writes a weekly column carried in various publications. He also recently co-wrote a biography on the late Bob Bullock. Knowing how utterly lazy I am in figuring out which newspapers carry the column from week to week, Dave just emails them to me upon publication. It’s not spam, per se.
This week, the column is about bipartisanship in Washington. Readers unfamiliar with the term “bipartisanship” should be forgiven, since it’s a condition which hasn’t been observed outside a laboratory setting since Ronald Reagan was a puppy.
In the column, McNeely fires up the way-back machine (which is kind of how he sometimes covered breaking news at the Statesman, come to think of it), and quotes George W. Bush near the beginning of his Presidency, either speaking at the Bullock Museum dedication, or overheard in the restroom at Oilcan Harry’s:
…Republican George W. Bush, who said in 1999 that he was “a uniter, not a divider,” said three months
after his inauguration while dedicating the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum that “I’ve done my best to take the (bipartisan) values I learned here in Texas to the debates in Washington.
“And there’s a way to go yet, but I think we’re making some progress. The tone is more civil. The respect is more widespread. I think Bob Bullock would be pleased.”
Well, two thoughts about that:
1. The temporary restraining order demanded by Bob Bullock’s family and friends prohibiting McNeely from typing the words “Bob” and “Bullock” must have expired; and
2. Did I miss something? At what point during the Bush presidency was progress made on bipartisanship? During which period of Bush’s tenure was the tone more civil, or respect more widespread?
And that last sentence. “I think Bob Bullock would be pleased.”
I’m not going to pretend to know what Bob Bullock would feel about it. I’m just still hung up on the fact that Bush said “I think.”
(Thanks for reminder, Dave. Sometimes things get ugly so slowly that we have to look at a picture from several years ago to see how ugly it really got.)