by James C. Moore
I have lately tried to stay away from writing about politics. Oddly, I’ve had some success with avoiding drafting analyses and tedious thumb-sucker pieces. Social media has, admittedly, sucked me into inane and useless exchanges but I have generally not wanted to participate in the vitriol that has become the 2016 election cycle.
Maybe that was a mistake.
I just can no longer resist a bit of ridicule of the semi-human organism holding the office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner: Sid Miller. Even by the Texas standard of corrupt and inept politicians, Miller is iconic and historical for his ignorance. And this is no minor accomplishment when you are heir to the legacy of Reagan Brown.
Brown was running for reelection to the Texas Ag office in 1982 against populist Jim Hightower. Brown was slipping in the polls and he needed urban votes. In a Dallas speech, he tried to appeal to African-Americans by referring to Booker T. Washington as an exemplar American; except Brown called the first president of the Tuskegee Institute “the great black n****r.”
Brown’s explanation for his racist slur was that he had eaten a bad turkey sandwich earlier in the day and it had caused food poisoning. He offered no further explanation as to how tainted nutrition will prompt a man to spout racial slurs but his genius had already been cast in doubt when he toured the capital grounds to show our TV cameras the dangers of fire ants. He stuck his hand into a mound and allowed the stinging little buggers to crawl all over him until he suffered dozens of bites that needed treatment.
Normally, such stupidity destines one for high office in Texas but Brown lost. The value of his time in politics, though, was such that we have archived one of history’s greatest political, on-camera failures, a treasured moment that far exceeds even Rick Perry’s “Oops.” Perry’s flop might have made you cringe; Brown’s will stop your peristalsis.
The deed of trust to the Bar No Dumbass Ranch has been signed over, however, to Sid Miller. His administration was founded on the principle that nothing is stupid except for taxpayers and voters. Consequently, he used state money to pay for a trip to Oklahoma, which was alleged to involve meetings with ag officials, but ended up being nothing more than a scam to fund his travel to get the “Jesus Shot.”
I think we made some Jesus shots out of mescal and Rio Grande mud on a camping trip to Big Bend some years ago but Miller was paying out of his own pocket for a quack to stick a syringe in his arm and inject him with vitamins and steroids. The Jesus Shot is supposed to end pain for your entire life. Of course, if you’ve already spent some time ending your ignorance you aren’t going to get the treatment. And Miller, selfishly, doesn’t think about our pain of having him hold public office and piss away our money in a state that has one out of four residents uninsured and refuses Medicaid expansion for the poor. Ag-hole Miller also withheld records of his Oklahoma trip for some time even after the Houston Chronicle had requested them under Freedom of Information laws.
He repaid the state after the district attorney conducted an investigation but Miller argued his Jesus Shot was incidental and he was up there for meetings that did not work out. He had the same explanation for a $2000 weekend at a calf-roping rodeo in Mississippi. Campaign funds were used to reimburse Texas taxpayers after he got caught out in Mississippi and he claimed using political money was justified because he talked to his ag counterpart and supporters over yonder.
All of these failures he blames on young staffers. The refuge of the political coward is always a lowly staffer’s reputation. He offered the same explanation after Tweeting that the Democratic nominee for president, a former U.S. Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State was a “c**t.
The tweet was quickly deleted and Miller said his account had been hacked. In a few hours, though, he had gone back to the “durn staffers did it” cop out, which is what all good cowboys do: blame somebody handy. The staffers were let off slightly when he said he told them, “Why don’t y’all just do some retweets?” According to Miller, they didn’t notice the profanity. This is patently believable. I can see big strategic sessions around the mahogany table in the ag office with Miller in his hat coming up with ingenious tactics like “retweets.”
But that’s not what happened. The rat in the hat said what he thought. Miller went on cable news in Austin and apologized but kept the focus on those failed staffers when he was confronted with a tweet where he claimed to be responsible for his own account and was “healthy as a bull.”
“One of my people tweeted that,” he explained. “You know, I’m a cowboy and I wouldn’t use that phrase. It’s healthy as a horse, not a bull.”
That’s bull, too, because ol’ Sid Miller kept going back and liking all of his tweets, which doesn’t exactly exonerate him even if it were staffers manifesting their bosses’ low intellect vigor in his Tweet stream.
But we elected him Texas; Sid’s all ours, and with the Jesus Shot coursing through his veins and keeping him happy and healthy, he could be around a long time.
The harvest of dumbass has just begun.