In his essay citing recent works that explore the life of George W. Bush and family [“Miss Him Yet?,” October 2020], SMU history professor Andrew R. Graybill shows no interest in primary sources about a subject he professes to know a lot about. Citing various books and a documentary, he quotes journalists, talking heads, and a novelist about the Iraq “debacle” and the “false pretexts” that sent the country to war. None of these sources had direct experience. Yet, when he had the opportunity to take in firsthand accounts of soldiers who actually fought in the war, which accompanied their portraits, painted by the president who made the decision to send them, Graybill didn’t find time to see the exhibit. “Portraits of Courage,” on display at the university’s George W. Bush Library for seven months, wasn’t worth a walk across campus to the professor because it “aroused a state of cognitive dissonance in [him].” Can these be the words of a serious educator?
Adair Margo, El Paso
Editors’ note: Margo chaired President George W. Bush’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and received the Presidential Citizens Medal from him.
I recently read the article on Allen West [“Wild Allen West,” December 2020]. I am a Texas Republican reared in the Eisenhower era, but I’m an angry moderate who holds a party identity I only justify maintaining because I know Republicans have more integrity than is currently apparent. Carpetbaggers like West are a part of Texas history (I’m descended from Sam Houston), but I’m so effin’ tired of the GOP crazies. I’ve been blocked by the Texas GOP Twitter account because I was appalled at West’s elected party position and stated my thoughts. Republicans used to believe in preserving the best of institutions—now it’s destruction for sake of destruction. Moderation is lost. The “right” and “left” are indistinguishable.
Kathy Bryson, Kerrville
Thank you for the story remembering Jerry Jeff Walker [“¡Viva Jerry Jeff!,” December 2020]. My Jerry Jeff Walker story has been a secret since 1976. That summer I was working for a Houston advertising agency that was the rep for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and the bicentennial show was coming to Houston. We got word that Jerry Jeff was driving back from the Calgary Stampede and wanted to participate as a clown—incognito—in the performance. The night came, and he rolled into town and the venue—the old Summit—with his entourage in a big Cadillac. They were all drunk as monkeys. Jerry Jeff went back to clown alley, got made up, and was one of the funniest clowns under the big top that night. No one but the clowns and the agency people ever knew. Until maybe now. RIP, Jerry. ¡Viva Terlingua!
Karen Gempel, Irving
Editors’ note: The article “The Battle That Wasn’t,” in the January 2021 issue, incorrectly stated that the Parker family compound was thirty miles west of Waco. It was about thirty miles east of Waco. We regret the error.