Tag Archives: Everett Dirksen

Tea party winning as it's losing

It’s time to give credit where it most definitely is due to the tea party wing of the once-Grand Old Republican Party.

Even when it loses it wins.

Take the race for U.S. senator in Mississippi this week. Sen. Thad Cochran beat back a stout challenge from tea party Republican Chris McDaniel. But did Cochran campaign in the GOP runoff on his ability to work with Democrats, or on his ability to funnel lots of money to his home state? Oh no. He campaigned on his conservative record — which he has established — and by telling Mississippians that he’s as conservative as they are.


I am no longer paying much never-mind to these predictions of the tea party’s death, resurrection and death yet again. The tea party wing of the GOP has won the debate.

It has dragged normally thoughtful conservatives into the rage pit right along with them. U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is as “establishment Republican” as they come. Now, though, he’s suing President Obama because the president has taken some executive action that has angered the tea party wing of the GOP. That means Boehner is mad, too.

Here in Texas, tea party Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick yanked Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst so far to the right that Dewhurst never got his legs under him or found his voice. He looked and sounded awkward trying to be as out there as Patrick, who’s smooth, articulate and glib. Patrick beat Dewhurst in the Texas GOP runoff.

Across the state, Republicans are sounding more alike all the time — meaning they’ve adopted the do-nothing mantra so popular among tea party officeholders in Washington.

There once was a Republican Party with pols who could work well with Democrats. Two come to mind immediately: the late U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas. There’ve been others, but those two men stand out in my own mind. Dirksen was pals with President Lyndon Johnson and helped LBJ enact civil rights and voting rights legislation in the mid-1960s. Dole was a dear friend of the late Democratic U.S. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. It helped that the two men both were World War II heroes and had a shared bond of military service. They also worked hand-in-hand on anti-hunger legislation.

Dole and Dirksen would be laughed out of the Senate chamber today.

The tea party’s strength can be seen in the debate that’s raging within the Republican Party — if you want to call it that when virtually all Republicans now are singing off the tea party song sheet.

The tea party, therefore, is winning, even when it’s losing.

A billion here, a billion there …

A Dallas Morning News blog notes that “A billion dollars isn’t what it used to be.”

Boy, howdy.


It talks about a list of billionaires in which the starting point now stands at $1.3 billion. T. Boone Pickens, the one-time Panhandle oil-and-gas magnate, didn’t make the grade. He is worth a “mere” $950 million, according to Forbes magazine, which did the survey.

The blog takes note of Pickens’s reaction, which is that he is “doing fine.” Pickens also said his $1 billion in charitable giving is more than his net worth.

This item brings to mind just how much inflation has devalued money.

I remember when Aristotle Onassis died in 1975. The Greek shipping magnate was considered then to be the world’s richest, or second-richest man — depending on who did the figuring.

Onassis’s net worth at the time of his death 38 years ago? It was around $500 million.

In today’s terms, the value of Onassis’s wealth would be considered chump change when compared to the ledger sheets produced by the likes of, say, Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

Or, as the late Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois once said about the cost of prosecuting the Vietnam War, “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon we’re talking real money.”