Or maybe my headline should have been, Goodnight Arlene. The walkout in the House last night wasn’t a protest; it was a temper tantrum. It was so juvenile, a thoughtless, willful act that did nothing to hurt Tom Craddick, just the strollers’ own colleagues who had worked feverishly to beat the deadline and reach agreement on bills. I believe that the ultimate effect of the promenaders will not be to highlight Craddick’s excesses but rather their own. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and achieved the impossible: the engendering of sympathy for Tom Craddick. Their walkout justifies his determination to stay on, to lay waste to his enemies, to plunge the next election cycle into chaos.

The question I have is, Where does it end as the two sides go back into history to avenge past wrongs? Craddick’s enemies feel justified in treating him with disrespect because he perverted the rules; he perverted the rules because they were abusing their power by trying to unseat him in the middle of the session; they were trying to unseat him because he was abusing his power; he was treating them with disrespect because that’s how Laney treated him; Laney treated him with disrespect because Craddick was being disloyal to Laney; … Where does it end? Are we in a never ending cycle of punishment and revenge, prisoners of our history? I know this story:

Each of us is all the sums he has not counted; subtract us into nakedness and night again, and you shall see begin in Crete four thousand years ago the love that ended yesterday in Texas. The seed of our destruction will blossom in the desert, the alexin of our cure grows by a mountain rock, and our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cutpurse went unhung. Each moment is the fruit of forty thousand years. (from Look Homeword, Angel! by Thomas Wolfe).

I don’t know how you feel about it, but I’ve watched the Legislature for forty years–it feels like forty thousand–and that’s about all I can stand. There has to be an end. The collective will of the House, I feel certain, is for Craddick to announce that he will not seek reelection as speaker. Craddick’s sin is that he believes he is bigger than the institution. His critics’ sin is that they have made themselves smaller than the institution. Is there an end?