With apologies to Elvis Costello, in Texas walking on water abundantly qualifies a miracle man. Our friend and colleague Louis Dubose has been walking on water at the Observer for more than a dozen years, simultaneously keeping several balls dancing in the air, running a hard race with relentless deadlines, and doing it all exceedingly well. A few weeks ago he told us he believes that he’s had enough – and while we certainly cannot blame him, there will be a cloud over our hearts at the Observer for many long weeks after he moves on.
Lou has presided over the Observer longer than any of the other storied editors who have led the legendary staffbox since 1954, and he has done so with extraordinary intelligence, honor, wit, generosity, perspicacity, and sheer doggedness: the last quality probably the least dazzling and most necessary to the editor of a small and brave political journal plunked down smack in the middle of a too-often hostile or indifferent official culture. Lou has covered stories all over Texas and beyond: from Odessa to Matamoros, Houston to El Paso, Big Thicket to the Caprock, Mexico City to Guatemala City to Managua and back again. He has covered the Texas environment from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande; the Texas pols from Marshall to Midland; the Klan in Texas East, West, and South. Along the way, he’s written thoughtful and illuminating essays on Texas rivers and Texas music. He has covered the Valley and the Border (both sides) with more sensitivity and careful attention than anybody in the state. Not content with that record, and while still hard at work here, last year he joined Molly in writing the best single book of political reporting on the Bush-Who-Would-Be-President.
And characteristic of all Lou’s writings are his quiet fairness and unwavering honesty. He asks questions, he listens, he reports what he sees, he writes it as clearly and as well as he can. A reader can ask no more.
That gives just a taste of what we will miss when Lou’s gone – although I hasten to add that he has graciously agreed to keep writing on occasion for the Observer, a promise to which we intend to hold him. Less obvious to readers is what we will miss from Lou as an editor: a colleague of honorable example and action, an acutely close reader with a sharp eye for cant or empty flourish, and a visible inspiration for what the Observer always attempts to be: “the Tyrant’s Foe, the People’s Friend.”
And our Friend, too. Lou has been the heart of this office and the Observer since the late Eighties, and he gathered in every one of us at work here now. For nearly five years, two as co-editor, this writer has been a clumsy Sancho Panza to Lou’s gentle Don Quixote, and he has done his best to instruct me in the fine and thankless art of tilting at windmills. Occasionally, we have even defeated one or two. Riding the road ahead, I will dearly miss Lou’s daily wisdom and friendship.
In one of his earliest pieces for these pages, Louis Dubose reminded his readers that his beloved Quixote is not a comedy, but in fact the profoundest of tragedies. Yet as he leaves here for greater things, we add his name to a triumphant shield of heroes, all but one still battling away: Ronnie Dugger, Willie Morris, Bob Sherrill, Molly Ivins, Kaye Northcott, Jim Hightower, Rod Davis, Geoff Rips, Dave Denison … Louis Dubose.
He’s in the very best company. Where he belongs. – M.K.