THE FRAMERS OF THE TEXAS Constitution were not trusting souls. They didn’t trust the governor to act with restraint, so they made his office weak. They didn’t trust the Legislature to be prudent with the taxpayers’ money, so they created the comptroller of public accounts to act as an independent watchdog over the state budget. The weak governor has worked out pretty well (especially, some would say, at this moment), but if you took a poll at the Capitol these days, the idea of an independent comptroller would not get rave reviews. I doubt that the authors of the constitution ever envisioned someone quite as independent as Carole Keeton Strayhorn.
Most politicians abide by the ancient wisdom of the profession that “the way to get along is to go along.” They avoid speaking ill of one another. They try not to pick fights gratuitously. They tie down their ambitions so they don’t flap in the wind. They grab a headline when the opportunity presents itself, but not too obviously and not too often. Strayhorn is the antithesis of a go-along politician. For the past four years she has engaged in a high-risk guerrilla strategy of seizing every chance to blast, waylay, and otherwise embarrass the governor, the lieutenant governor, and, occasionally, the Speaker—all of whom, of course, are members of her own Republican