Empower play
Thu June 11, 2009 3:24 pm

The following article was posted by Michael Quinn Sullivan on the Empower Texans Web site. My comments appear below:

Texas Monthly's Liberal Best
Submitted by MQSullivan on Thu, 06/11/2009 - 10:11am.

The Texas Monthly Best & Worst lists are little more than a front for a left-wing ideological agendas. Remember who chooses the Best and Worst: liberal reporters anchored by editor Paul Burka. One of his lead writers, Patricia Kilday Hart, even wrote that the ten-best slots were open for anyone pushing liberal causes. I snidely suggested conservatives would find more friends on the "ten worst" list.

Turns out I wasn't too far off.

TMs "Ten Best" includes six Republicans versus four Democrats. See how bipartisan they are; Texas Monthly (hearts) Republicans! The Ten Worst? Five Republicans and five Democrats. Bipartisanship blooms!

Ah, but not where it counts. Texas Monthly peppered their "Ten Best" with big-taxers and spenders. The "Ten Worst" with fiscal heroes.

Let's look at the Republicans on the lists.

The average rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index of the Texas Monthly "Ten Best" Republicans is a 56.25%. Big-time failing. Among TMs heroes is State Sen. John Carona, who distinguished himself this Session by pushing for higher taxes and fees to fund boondoggle transportation projects without any accountability or transparency.

TM, of course, specifically praised Carona for seeking to impose new taxes and fees.

Seven of the "Ten Best" legislators had failing scores on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.

The average rating for the Texas Monthly "Ten Worst" Republicans is 82.43%. TM scolded stalwart taxpayer heroes like Sen. Troy Fraser and Reps. Debbie Riddle and Wayne Christian.

The magazine's bias against conservatives runs deeper; their "honorable" and "dishonorable" mentions make for an even stronger case of their bias. In issue after issue, the magazine does little to reflect the common-sense conservativism that runs deep in the state whose name they [c]arry.

With their corporate owners in Indiana, Texas Monthly has become little more than a barely entertaining style magazine, catering to liberal "sensibilities" with a slight Texas twang. In the upside down world of politics, read Texas Monthly in a mirror. The best tend to be the worst. The worst, the best friends of taxpayers.

* * * *

My response:

You evaluate politicians by applying a single litmus test. We evaluate politicians by looking at character, personality, and performance. You write for people who think like you do. We write for people who think.

We don't have the luxury of looking at the Legislature through a single prism. We have Republican readers and we have Democratic readers; we have liberal readers and we have conservative readers. Each of these groups expect us to be fair. The Best and Worst Legislators story could not have flourished for 36 years if our audience perceived us to be biased in one direction or the other. We don't constrict our judgment with rigid ideological tests like a "fiscal responsibility index." Rather, our approach to the lists is to try to reflect the consensus of the Capitol community, tempered by our own judgment about who has performed well and who has performed badly.

Still, you insist, in the face of ample evidence to the contrary, that our Best and Worst lists are "little more than a front for a left-wing ideological agenda." Whose agenda would that be? Would it be the "left-wing ideological agenda" of Jim Pitts, who passed the House version of the appropriations bill through a Republican-majority chamber by a vote of 149-0, and who did not touch the Rainy Day Fund, and whose budget spent $4 billion less than the Senate's?. Or possibly you are referring to the "left-wing ideological agenda" of John Otto, whom we praised for being a fiscal watchdog and for keeping a careful eye on the state debt ceiling. Michael: Let me ask you something. Did you even bother to read the article before you wrote about it?

I see that you singled out Senator John Carona for criticism: "Among TM's heroes is State Sen. John Carona, who distinguished himself this [s]ession by pushing for higher taxes and fees to fund boondoggle transportation projects without any accountability or transparency. TM, of course, specifically praised Carona for seeking to impose new taxes and fees." It seems to me that you're trying to seize the low ground here. What we specifically praised Senator Carona for was trying to solve a problem. Carona did not seek to impose any taxes. He sought to allow people in choked metropolitan areas the choice of whether to tax themselves to pay for new roads. The ironic thing about this is that local control used to be a basic tenet of conservatism, as did the notion that the government that governs best is the government that is closest to the people.

Finally, I am amused to read your comment that Texas Monthly does little to reflect the common-sense conservativism that runs deep in the state whose name we carry -- proudly. Litmus tests and the efforts of a few to enforce a Grover Norquist-style orthodoxy are not common-sense conservatism.

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