Tag Archives: Jim Wright

Recalling one tough ‘S.O.B.’ and how he would react to Trump

I have been thinking a good bit in recent days of my former congressman, arguably the meanest, most irascible, most ferocious partisan ever to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The late Jack Brooks was that man. He called himself Sweet Old Brooks. You get how the initials spell out and how they likely refer to their more, um, colloquial meaning.

Brooks — who represented the Golden Triangle of Texas from 1953 until 1995 — was one mean dude. It is no stretch to say that he hated Republicans. He served on the House Judiciary Committee that approved articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. I read a fascinating Politico piece recently that told how Brooks actually authored the articles to ensure they were written with unassailable precision.

How would Sweet Old Brooks react to what we’re debating today?

I truly believe in my gut that he would be calling for Trump’s head on the proverbial platter, or perhaps even some pertinent body parts as well, if you know what I mean.

Jack Brooks was one of many Texas proteges of the great House Speaker Sam Rayburn, who took other political fledglings under his wing. Men such as Lyndon Johnson and Jim Wright (another U.S. House speaker) owed their political success to the mentorship provided by Mr. Sam.

However, Brooks was wired differently than LBJ or Speaker Wright. President Johnson learned to work with Republicans, who helped him enact the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. He needed those Republicans to counter the opposition he was getting from southern Democrats who remained faithful to their segregationist past.

To be clear, Jack Brooks was not among those southern Democrats who resisted LBJ. He supported the president’s efforts in the House. A large part of his Southeast Texas constituency comprised African-Americans in Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Brooks, though, was among the toughest, meanest politicians I ever met. I do not recall in all the discussions I had with him that Brooks would offer unsolicited praise for Republican politicians. He considered President Reagan to be a dunce and a dolt.

How would he react to the conduct of the current Republican president? He would find a way to send Donald Trump packing. Of that I am absolutely certain.

He surely was an SOB, but he was our SOB.

Changes coming to AMA

The Wright Amendment expires later this year, meaning that some changes are in store for an air carrier that serves Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

Southwest Airlines, headquartered at Dallas Love Field, will reduce its daily service at AMA from seven flights to five.

What’s the connection?

Well, the Wright Amendment, enacted in 1974, was meant to protect the then-new Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport by restricting travel from Love Field. Southwest Airlines planes couldn’t take off for destinations without having to stop first in close-in locations. The amendment, named after its author, former U.S. Rep. Jim Wright, D-Fort Worth, has been scrapped now that D-FW has grown up and become one of the world’s pre-eminent air terminals.

What’s in store for AMA? Two fewer Southwest flights daily, for starters. Airport officials aren’t signaling any panic. They’ll continue to compete for air service in and out of their shiny new terminal. Southwest will be able to depart Love Field for farther non-stop destinations.

Amarillo, though, isn’t without some economic weapons of its own to toss at carriers looking for a place to land. It’s used one of them with effectiveness in the past. The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation once paid American Airlines more than $1 million annually to retain jet service in and out of AMA. The money came from sales tax revenue it collected, believing that the jet service would attract business to Amarillo by providing more comfortable and speedier air service. Critics scoffed at the idea of paying for jet service, but it worked. American Airlines retained the jet service, then scrapped it for a time, and then returned it to Amarillo — as well as to other regional airports around the country.

I’m not too worried that AMA is going to be left in the cold once the Wright Amendment passes into history.

However, if business falters at AMA, the AEDC has a large pile of money at its disposal to dangle in front of those who are looking for some incentives to do business with Amarillo. The precedent has been set.

Newt hates being negative?

Now I’ve heard just about everything there is to hear in contemporary American politics.

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, the one-time bomb-thrower in chief of the Republican, the one-man wrecking crew against all things Democratic, now says his party has gone too “negative” in its effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act.


I need to have my hearing checked?

Gingrich is now trying to be the paragon of positive thinking in his party. Imagine that.

My favorite Gingrich tactic came to light in the early 1990s when, while building what would become the House Republican majority, once counseled his congressional colleagues to adopt a glossary of terms to demonize his Democratic opponents. Among them was this notion that Republicans had to label Democrats, get ready for this one, as the “enemy of normal Americans.”

Remember how he tore after then-House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas for his ethical lapses? Turned out that Wright was dirty and he resigned from the House, but he did so after being bloodied badly by Gingrich’s relentless attack.

Gingrich’s scorched-Earth strategy succeeded in 1994, as the GOP captured both houses of Congress in one of the party’s more stunning mid-term successes. He then sought to give first-term President Clinton the dickens masterminding the infamous government shutdown. That didn’t work out too well for Gingrich, as his party got clobbered in the 1996 and 1998 elections. He eventually quit the House a broken political leader.

Gingrich has become the poster boy for those who know to acquire the power to govern, but who don’t know how to actually govern.

So here he is today, giving advice to his Republican progeny on how to woo disaffected voters.

Good luck with that, Mr. Speaker.