Page 9


POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Three Cheers for Irony ANOTHER ROUND WITH AL State elected to the Texas House in 1978. Early in his career, he sponsored the bill that created the Juneteenth holiday in Texas, and more recently, has been the driving force behind the perpetually soon-to-be constructed Juneteenth memorial on the Capitol grounds. You would think a 27-year incumbent Democrat with those civil rights credentials would be so revered in his district that he could serve in the House as long as he wanted. Not Edwards, though. He’s had to run for his political life this spring against two strong primary challengers, and now faces a runoff. A peek at his record the past three years tells you why. Edwards, you may remember, was the author of last session’s most notorious piece of goof-ball legislation: the sexy cheerleader bill, or as Rep. Garnet Bootylicious Bill. It would have outlawed cheerleading routines deemed too risque. The bill made national news, and landed Edwards dozens of interviews, including an embarrassing turn on Comedy Central’s satirical The Daily Show. He also created a stir last session over the Juneteenth memorial. Edwards, who is chairman in perpetuity of the commission overseeing the project, garnered much criticism when a mockup of the proposed memorial included a figure that looked remarkably likeyou guessed itAl Edwards. When asked about the statute last year, Edwards told the Observer, “It might look like you, it might look like me, it has to look like somebody.” Indeed. None of that, however, seems to have gotten Edwards in as much trouble with his constituents as his vote for the Republican tax bill last spring that would have increased taxes for most of his constituents. He was the only Democrat in the House to vote for says he heard Edwards at a campaign event taking undue credit for a bill he didn’t passlegislation that created the Children’s Health Insurance Program. “He said he put the CHIP program together,” Coleman says. “This is claiming to have written legislation that he clearly didn’t write. It’s amazing how he stretched the truthI’m using that term politely.” Edwards didn’t return calls for comment. As you may have noticed, Coleman isn’t a huge fan of his fellow Houston Democrat. Coleman says he didn’t actively campaign against Edwards, but he is leaving the option open in the weeks before the April 11 runoff. “I don’t think working against an incumbent on principled issues isn’t outside the realm of good taste,” Coleman says. Edwards remains in a strong position heading into the runoff, having garnered 48.2 percent on March 7. He faces the second-place challenger, Borris Miles, who got 32.8 percent. Edwards’ only worry is that third-place finisher Al port Miles. So it’s likely Edwards will be back at the Capitol next session for another crack at the Bootylicious Bill. GENERAL IRONY According to the Web site of the Center for Ethical Leadership at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, our nation needs “ethical and imaginative leaders at every level” and the school intends to “self-consciously promote” the development of these leaders. So, whom did the Center select to deliver the opening address for the annual Center-sponsored Student Leadership Conference? Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from October 2001 to September 2005, and an architect of U.S. military policy in Afghanistan and Iraq. On March 2, the day of Myers’ speech, The Daily Texan published an op-ed by Craig Adair, an LBJ student who noted the obvious: “The University of Texas is fortunate to have the clout to attract visitors of such status as General Richard Myers,” wrote Adair, “but his visit reflects a grave contradiction that, if not properly addressed, raises disturbing questions about our educational institution as well as the moral fabric of our country. “I’m not advocating censorship or denial of General Myers’ right to speak freely on matters of politics and policy that affect us all,” he continued. “I believe we need more healthy and spirited debate in this country, not less. But I am saying that to practice ethical leadership is to unequivocally condemnnot condonetorture, manipulation, and artifice \(not to mention wars acts result in or perpetuate the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people. Deference to human rights, respect for others, and truthfulness are the real marks of ethical leadership. “I would welcome Myers’ visit to UT under any number of bannersleadership, public policy, or military quagmires, for example. I do not welcome the denigration of academic integrity and further erosion of our country’s moral standing and security that his visit constitutes under the guise of ‘ethical leadership.” On the night of Myers’ speech, a group of about 50 demonstrators held signs and chanted outside the auditorium; eventually they moved their protest inside. Though the bulk of the seating had been reserved for Leadership Conference participants, the University of Texas Police Department permitted demonstrators to hold signs and banners lambasting the general in the back rows. As for the General’s speech, Iraq and Afghanistan were marginal issues to what Myers considered to be the real meat of the night. After commenting on the banality of post-military life 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MARCH 24, 2006