Small-Tent Politics: New Texas GOP Chair Tacks Right. Way Right.
While a few level heads in the Texas Republican Party recognize the cold, dirty truth—that they must expand their base beyond white conservatives or risk long-term marginalization—the “nays” clearly still have it. On Saturday, with no debate allowed (apparently because the party didn’t want the press to overhear), Texas Republican leaders replaced one state chairwoman of the Palin/Santorum/Tea Party right with a new chairwoman, Cathie Adams, who appears to be even more neolithic in her politics. The upshot: Don’t expect the Texas GOP to be moving in an “expansive” direction any time soon. Democrats should be dancing a collective gig. Republicans with any licks of sense should be dumbfounded. Most Texas papers and blogs have simply mentioned in passing that the new chair of the Texas Republican Party also heads the Texas Eagle Forum. The Star-Telegram’s report on Adams’s election was pretty typical: “The 59-year-old Dallas resident is perhaps best known as the leader of the Texas Eagle Forum, a women’s organization that advocates for socially conservative causes. Adams, its president for 16 years, said she will resign to take over as state GOP chairman.” The Eagle Forum is a little more complicated—and a lot more entrenched on the far tip of the right-wing spectrum—than those polite cliches (“women’s organization,” “advocates for socially conservative causes”) would suggest. And so, apparently, is Adams. According to the Texas Freedom Network, Adams has followed in Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly’s footsteps with some rather extreme remarks, like saying President Obama’s school speech was “eerily like Hitler’s youth movement.” Or like passing judgment on Obama’s faith: “”While many question Barak Hussein Obama’s ‘religion’…, the more important question is whether he has a ‘relationship’ with Jesus Christ because that is the only HOPE that any of us have to obtain eternal life. I personally see NO evidence that Obama has that kind of ‘saving faith.'” Or like arguing thusly against the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which gives health care to children of the working poor: “Now illegal aliens will be able to purchase cheap insurance for their children. This is an incentive for them to come here.”The Eagle Forum, nationally, has entered the anti-immigration fray in recent years. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report wrote about the Alabama chapter of the group “holding a series of ‘grassroots workshops’ around the state entitled ‘What YOU can do about Illegal Immigration'” while “touting misleading information about immigrants.” This is consistent with the national drift of Shlafly’s followers, the report continued. “In the last few years, the group has added immigration to its list of social evils, which had long centered on the gay rights movement. In 2005, the group joined the Secure Borders Coalition. An alliance of Christian Right groups, hard-right organizations like Accuracy in Media and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and strident anti-immigration outfits including the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, the coalition issued a statement attacking all amnesty and guest worker proposals and vowed to oppose any candidate, regardless of his or her stance on other issues, taking a different tack.” All of which makes Adams the right candidate to bring more Latinos into the GOP fold?The Eagle Forum stands for the exact opposite of a “bigger tent.” Like its founder, Schlafly, it is staunchly anti-feminist and pro-“traditional family.” It spreads anti-immigration propaganda. It advertised and celebrated the tea parties. (“Check for Tea Parties in your local area during the Labor Day week-end and stand up for FREEDOM!”) It is hardcore. The Texas Eagle Forum website is dominated by Schlafly, whose radio and “print” commentaries are dutifully touted and archived. Some of the anti-feminist crusader’s topics (or, rather, stepping-off points) are straight out of the Republican right “message of the day” book: “Good Health Depends on Defeating Government Health,” “Obama Is Remaking America into Socialism,” “Obama’s ‘New World Order’.” But more plentiful are reminders of just how far out on the tip end of right-wingdom sits the Eagle Forum. There’s ” ‘Social Justice’: Code Word for Anti-Americanism.” There’s “The Government Death Book.” There are the “exposes” of the myriad evils of the National Education Association, which did something to make Schlafly really mad (“NEA Goes All-Out for Same-Sex Marriage,” “NEA Resolutions Promote the Gay Agenda,” “More Leftwing NEA Resolutions”). And there are the just plain fringey ones: “Con Con Is a Terrible Idea” (indeed!), “Yes, We Still Need an ABM Defense,” “Feminism vs. Women,” “Big Brother Is in Your Cell Phone.” Adams gets good play on the site as well. “Cathie has a new PowerPoint presentation book review of Mark Levin’s, ‘Liberty & Tyranny.’,” we are told. “In it Levin gives a conservative remedy to the socialist/Statist agenda of the Obama administration and his willing Democrat cohorts in Congress. To schedule ‘Liberty & Tyranny,’ or other presentations on timely topics (global warming, radical Islam and Republican politics, etc.), please call our office at 972-250-0734.” Oh, please do. Whether Adams’ chairmanship will represent an attempt to impose an Eagle Forum-style agenda on the Republican Party remains to be seen. But she has already shown plenty of pugnacity—and a willingness to plunge right into internal squabbles, rather than trying to tamp them down—by immediately targeting Hutchison in a press conference after she won the GOP chair. “It would help the people of the state of Texas to know more clearly, especially by (the candidate filing deadline of) Jan. 4,” Adams said, “because if she resigns after that, we’re going to throw things into quite an unknown.”Then, after having spoken on behalf of the Perry campaign, she was asked whether, considering that state parties are supposed to be neutral in primaries, she would consider withdrawing her endorsement of the governor’s re-election. “That would be like trying to turn the direction of the river,” Adams said. She promised, though, that “there’s not going to be any partiality” on her part in her new role. As she had just made crystal clear.