I’m going to go out on a limb here—but not too far—and predict that supporters of Chris Bell’s campaign for governor will be angry when they read “ He’s Sisyphus, and He Approves This Message”, by executive editor S. C. Gwynne. But misery loves company: Residents of Marfa, the Presidio County seat that owes its existence to Donald Judd and hype, won’t be made any happier by senior editor Michael Hall’s “ The Truth Is Out There”. What these stories have in common is a bracing dose of reality. The former says out loud what everyone in the political establishment has been thinking for months: Barring something massive and massively unforeseen, the Democratic standard-bearer has virtually no chance of denying Rick Perry another term in office. The latter dares to out Marfa’s mythic claim to fame, those mysterious lights of lore and yore, as likely little more than wishful thinking and the far-off high beams of cars pushing the speed limit.
This is not an especially good time to be courting the enmity of our readers. Perhaps you’ve heard: Print journalism is dead. But what’s the mission of a magazine like ours? To tell it like it is, even if that sometimes (okay, often) means making people hate us.
In conceiving the Bell story, Gwynne was as much interested in the predicament in which any statewide Democratic candidate finds himself at the moment—this being one of the redder states in the union, even with the Bush presidency in free fall—as in the candidate himself. It’s not like the D’s haven’t been given opportunity after opportunity to slap the conservative Republican leadership at the Capitol upside the head. And yet they’ve been profoundly unsuccessful at making the case for their return to power, ceding the moral high ground to the only real minority party that matters these days: the moderate Republicans. (For a frank discussion of this intramural warfare, check out GOP power broker James Leininger’s interview with yours truly, “