Anyone who was at the Capitol yesterday is bound to have run into hordes of women in red T-shirts. These were retired teachers who were visiting the Capitol. I happened to decide to watch the Senate from the gallery at the same time as the teachers arrived. Good luck! The line outside the door to the gallery stretched back to the stairs. So I went downstairs and onto the floor. The galleries were packed. You couldn’t see a chair back in the gallery. On the floor, senators were making speeches about how wonderful the retired teachers are. It turned into a pep rally. Teachers cheered for their hometown senators and for themselves. Meanwhile, on the podium, Dewhurst stood like a statue, immobile and silent. You know that he wanted to pick up that gavel and pound it, restoring order, but he didn’t dare. (Never forget, a lobbyist told me once, that the Legislature can be physically intimidated.) One of my media colleagues mentioned that Bullock must be turning over at the thought of a demonstration in the Senate Chamber. The gavel was the metaphor. It could be used, by the right leader, to actually do something about the crisis the state faces, but it was going to remain unused, sitting at rest, while the people who need and deserve the state’s help listen to the empty paeans spoken by those who will do nothing to help them.
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