DINING ROOM TABLE – “The nation, and particularly Texas, is going through some chaotic and depressing times. Where to look for advice? That’s why I invited y’all to dinner tonight to discuss and perhaps offer solutions to our problems.”
Sam Houston spoke first. What wonderful experiences he has had, and what bold recommendations he shall share.
“Is the bar open? I’ll have a bourbon on the rocks. Just leave the bottle. You want some advice, Pilgrim? Looking around this state, I’d say Santa Anna was right. Texas isn’t ready for self-government. Who elected these people? That Abbott feller can’t take responsibility for anything. And your second-in-command. What a demagogue. ‘Lieutenant Dan’ they call him. And his name isn’t even Dan Patrick. It’s Dannie Scott Goeb.”
“Actually, my real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens,” said Mark Twain, “but I get your point. I never saw anyone in office so blatantly lie, distort and even weasel on a bet. Patrick, or whatever his name is, never did cough up that two million dollars he promised to pay to anyone who could round up an illegal voter. The lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania found three of ‘em. And, ironically, they all voted illegally for Trump. Goeb never paid.”
Winston Churchill wrestled the bottle of bourbon from Houston and poured himself a large drink.
“The Texas Democrats should fight on the beaches, fight in the fields, fight at the voting booths. But I haven’t seen a more dysfunctional group since your evacuation of Kabul. That chaos made Dunkirk look like a Marine parade. Never have so few Democrats made so many mistakes. Polls show that 59 percent of Republicans still believe Joe Biden stole the election. That shows that 59 percent of Republicans are easily misled, gullible, maybe outright nuts. Your Pied Piper of Sleaze, Trump, proves you really can fool a lot of people all the time.”
Rupert Murdoch spoke up.
“I sure can fool a lot of the people all the time. Just look at our ratings. Fox News smashes the competition, and we’re making a fortune doing it. Of course, most of our viewers are in rest homes, hospices or in the newspapers’ obituary pages. Speaking of the press, have you noticed that trust in the American media has plummeted? I’ll take credit for that. Every night we have Carlson and Hannity telling viewers they can’t trust fake news, political opponents, our generals, Dr. Fauci, or anyone who doesn’t look like them. We dropped ‘Fair and balanced’ as our slogan. We’re thinking of using ‘Paranoia is perfection.’ By the way, should I have brought my food-taster?”
Davy Crockett waved his hand.
“When I was defeated for Congress in Tennessee, I told the people in my district, ‘Y’all can go to hell. I’m going to Texas.’ Looking around Texas today, little did I know that trip was a lateral move. Every poll shows Texans want stiffer gun laws. Now any idiot can buy a firearm, and most of them do. I felt safer with Ol’ Betsy in that Santone mission than I do on the West Loop. It was said back in my day, ‘Texas is paradise for men and dogs, but hell for women and horses.’ Today the horses are doing better. Texans don’t want another Frozen February, but what did the Legislature do to prevent it from happening again? Almost nothing. We’re in for another killer winter. Luckily, I still have my coonskin cap and I’m getting a coonskin suit, with matching socks.”
Houston raised his glass, saying, “I’ll drink to that.” Churchill followed suit.
Dr. Fauci pulled down his mask.
“Since my name has been mentioned, I’d like to speak for a moment. Only 51 percent of Texas's population has been fully vaccinated while 59 percent has received at least one dose. Both percentages are below the national averages. It’s a political party thing. A Gallup Poll found that nationally, as of September 2021, 92 percent of Democrats say they are fully vaccinated against Covid. By comparison, 68 percent of Independents and 56 percent of Republicans report being inoculated against the virus. Notice I’m wearing a mask. I am vaccinated, maybe 10 times because I’m around a lot of sick people. One of your problems is that, when it comes to handling the Covid-19 pandemic, Texas has received moronic leadership. You’ve got your attorney general suing school districts for mandating masks in classrooms. Your governor sends contradictory orders. We medical experts have a scientific term for this: ‘mind-boggling stupidity.’ Incidentally, Mollie, would you mind sitting six-feet away?”
Mollie Ivins moved over a bit.
“This dinner sure beats hanging around Scholz Garten smokin’ cigarettes, sippin’ beer and talkin’ politics with the good ol’ boys. Anyway, I think of Texas as the laboratory for bad government. As for our governor, if his IQ slips any lower, we'll have to water him twice a day.”
The room was swept with laughter.
“Ben, you’ve been quiet.”
Ben Franklin suddenly awoke.
“When I wrote, ‘I never knew a man who was good at making excuses who was good at anything else,’ I was thinking of your governor.’ And when I wrote, ‘He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals,’ I was writing about your lieutenant governor.”
I turned to José Antonio Navarro.
“Jose, you helped Texas become Texas. You were one of three Tejanos signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. You helped write the first state constitution and on and on. What do you think of the GOP’s efforts at redistricting?”
“61 percent of the Legislature are white, although white Texans make up just 41 percent of the state's population. Hispanic Texans make up 40 percent of the population, but hold just a quarter of seats in the Legislature. We currently have 36 representatives in the U.S. House. Seven of them are Hispanic. With the new re-districting, we may have none. We need Sam, Davy, Mollie and me running Texas.”
I’ll drink to that.
Ashby dines at firstname.lastname@example.org