The Texas Observer

The Ballad of Lloyd Oliver: It’s Not Funny Anymore

The Ballad of Lloyd Oliver: It’s Not Funny Anymore

Lloyd Oliver

Dateline Houston cannot adequately communicate how vivid and disturbing the Houston Press’s new cover story profiling Lloyd Oliver is. You’ll just have to read it. Oliver, of course, is the guy who spent $325 in the Democratic primary for Harris County District Attorney campaigning against a highly qualified favorite—and won by 3000 votes. A lawyer with a checkered past, Oliver has run unsuccessfully for several offices, often as a Republican, because he says it drums up business for his law practice. Harris County Democrats tried to boot Oliver from the ticket for saying he would have voted for the incumbent DA, a Republican who lost in the primary, but Oliver took the issue to court and prevailed.

Because Oliver is a, how you say, local character, mirth ensued. Briefly.

Then, September 28, Oliver appeared on the Houston PBS political forum “Red, White and Blue” and was asked to clarify a remark he made publicly in March, that domestic violence victims should “maybe learn how to box a little better.” Confronted with his own words, Oliver didn’t backtrack. “There are some people,” he explained, “[and] I don’t understand it, but part of their making love is beat up one another first.”

Dateline Houston doesn’t think Oliver understood A Streetcar Named Desire.

Oliver went on to say that domestic violence cases should be prosecuted less often, so that taxpayer money and jail space can be reserved for “baby rapers” and the like.

It shouldn’t require explanation that domestic violence, and the prehistoric attitude that abuse is a private problem that doesn’t require or deserve public resources, is abhorrent. But by the by, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and according to Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, Harris County sees more victims killed by abuse than any other county in the state.

Really, Oliver’s stand on this issue but scratches the surface of the political melanoma that is his candidacy. Here’s a tiny sample more from the Press feature:

“[Oliver] compliments women frequently on whatever ‘fine aroma’ they may be wearing. He characterizes certain teenage girls as ‘sticking out every which way you can imagine.’ … He is wary of Seattle because of all the ‘queers holding hands’ and the ‘rag heads.’ He loves soup. And his opinion of the local Democratic leadership? ‘Frustrated homosexuals.’”

Practically everyone who’s paying attention is worried that Oliver could win if enough people vote straight-ticket Democrat, which is perhaps likelier in this presidential election year. Oliver’s opponent, Republican Mike Anderson, “said an Oliver victory could spark a mass exodus of as many as 100 of the 240 prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Dateline Houston hopes to learn, and soon, that Oliver’s whole candidacy and persona are part of a Borat-like farce intended to illustrate the dangers of an uninformed, partisan electorate. But if that turns out not to be the case, this show is definitely not funny anymore.