What do you get when a reporter doesn’t get a quote right, other reporters have too much time on their hands, and Democrats use Twitter to try and push a false narrative? Faux outrage and a boost to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign.
At yesterday’s Lt. Gov. forum, there was a lot of talk about Democrats holding committee chairmanships while Dewhurst has been in office. Houston Chronicle reporter/columnist Patti Hart was in attendance and reported that Dewhurst said this:
Patrick claimed that Democrats have been allowed to block legislation on sanctuary cities and school choice largely because Dewhurst has given them too much power.
“I will not appoint half of the Democrats as chairman of committees,” he said.
Dewhurst responded that Democrats led only five of 17 Senate committees and assured the crowd that none of them was important.
And this morning the Democrats, led by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, pretended to be upset. Their faux outrage could be felt all up and down the Twitter hashtag #txlege. Sen. Van de Putte said that she was “steamed” and wrote this:
As you know, I am extremely honored to serve as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations (VAMI) and I thank you for your continuing confidence in my ability to lead what I believe is a crucial and essential committee. You can imagine my great shock when I read the newspaper this morning and learned that you dismissed the work of the VAMI committee — and the five other committees that my fellow Democrats chair — when you “assured the crowd that none of them was important.”
Of course, Dewhurst didn’t “assure the crowd” that none of the committees chaired by D’s were important – what he said was that they were not critical. Hart got the quote wrong.
“I’ve been reducing the number of Democratic chairs since I came in. You know how many committees we have? Seventeen. You know how many Democratic chairs we have? Five. So I’ve been reducing them — and not one of them is one of the critical committees.”
And he said that in the context of a Republican forum. Hey, it’s difficult getting quotes correct. I’m sure that Hart thought her interpretation was close enough. But close enough isn’t good enough for someone of Hart’s caliber and influence. Hart later wrote a blog piece about Van de Putte’s faux outrage and included the correct quote along with a very short audio clip of Dewhurst saying it. Curiously, Hart never corrected the original story that contained the misinterpretation of Dewhurst’s remarks. And her short audio clip on the blog post doesn’t put Dewhurst’s comment in context, so I’m going to help her.
When he made this comment, he was the last of the four candidates to answer a question about the Lt. Gov.’s role in keeping legislation flowing. I’ll let you listen to the entire seven minutes, including the question (question, then Staples, then Patterson, then Patrick, then Dewhurst):
Clearly Dewhurst wasn’t “assuring the crowd that none of them was important”, which was Hart’s interpretation. What Dewhurst was assuring a Republican crowd of was that issues that are critical to traditional Republican principles were not going to be held up by a Democratic chairman. Obviously all committees serve a purpose and are important to someone or they wouldn’t exist. But are most of them critical? Of course not. I can think of two that are: Finance and Education. Perhaps HHS because it is such a large part of the budget but since the Texas Constitution doesn’t list providing health care as a core function of government, I think not. Your interpretation of critical may vary.
Republican primary voters will even argue amongst ourselves what “critical” is. To some, I promise you that Sen. Whitmire blocking campus carry was “critical” – but really, it was just important. The state can function without that but college students would be safer today if Whitmire hadn’t blocked it. And I could list other examples. And for the record, the Senate website lists 18 committees, 6 of which have D’s as chair. Which makes Sen. Patrick’s assertion that half the D’s are committee chairs accurate.
But for the bloggers o’ the left, Hart’s misquote was like manna from heaven! Outraged, I tell you, outraged! Blockquoted outrage! Full of errors outrage! Of course the only support these clowns ever give veterans is of the Jane Fonda variety.
Meanwhile, the Dewhurst camp is probably rejoicing and thanking Van de Putte and the bloggers o’ the left for reminding Republican voters how desperate the left in Texas is and that they offer no ideas for opportunity and growth. Texas didn’t become the number one state in the nation being run by politicians who get their nose out of joint over misquotes by a popular journalist. And BTW, in case you missed it, Dewhurst was at the helm of the Texas Senate during the emergence of Texas as the best state for jobs and business in the nation. Yeah, I’m guessing the Dewhurst camp is pretty happy with Van de Putte this morning and Dewhurst will let her keep her committee chair next year.
The irony in all of this is that Dewhurst is a veteran and Van de Putte is not. As Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine said:
Lt. Governor Dewhurst believes every committee in the Texas Senate addresses issues important to Texans. As a veteran of the United States Air Force and foreign officer in the C.I.A., David Dewhurst has always supported veterans and was proud to preside over the passage of legislation such as SB163, which awards a 100% property tax exemption to spouses of active duty service members who were killed in action, and SB 162, which helps ease the transition of service members and their families to civilian life.
When people refer to campaign season as the “silly season”, I think they are referring to the bloggers o’ the left and Texas Democrats.