Questioning Tom Schieffer

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010 at 1:04 pm by wcnews

Tom Schieffer will likely be asked questions about his friendship and business partnership with former president George W. Bush, like the ones below, until his run for Governor of Texas ends.

Could you justify your repeated support for George Bush? And in retrospect do you have any regrets about it?”

Especially when pictures like this are available. It’s understandable that Schieffer is starting to tire of the questions surrounding his friendship with former President Bush. And his attempts to keep from being critical of his good ‘ol friend, and business partner (see here), by not answering the questions is admirable, but isn’t winning him many new friends. But the questions will continue up to and until Tom Schieffer’s run for governor ends.

This comes up now because Schieffer appeared at the Central Texas Democratic Forum on Monday and was unable to answer that question, Mr. Schieffer’s bad lunch.

“I think your repeated support for George Bush is literally the elephant in the room here” came the question from Red Wassenich, an Austin Community College librarian. “And could you justify that? And in retrospect do you have any regrets about it?”

Schieffer opted to answer a different question.

“The question was about George Bush asking me to serve as ambassador,” he said.

Well, no, it really wasn’t. And Wassenich interrupted to remind Schieffer that the question was about supporting Bush for president, not about getting two ambassadorships after Bush became president.

Schieffer, undaunted, plowed ahead.

“Could I go ahead and answer and then you can ask me any follow-up you want to?” said Schieffer, relaunching back into his answer about a question not asked.

“I’m a Democrat,” he concluded, “and I hope that my service to the country will not disqualify me from serving the Democratic Party.”

A few minutes later, another questioner asked Schieffer if he would “repudiate” any Bush policies.

And then there was this question on increased funding for public education.

Karen Pavelka, who teaches library and archives conservation at the University of Texas, came away equally unimpressed with her party’s leading gubernatorial candidate. She had asked Schieffer where he would find money for education improvements.

“My answer to your question is I don’t know where we find the money,” Schieffer said, after an initial answer in which he told Pavelka “I’m going to ask you.” She had interrupted and said, “I’m not running for governor … ”

Schieffer said he planned to “take smart people, you put them at a table” and you work toward an answer.

Yes, that would be one way to go. But Pavelka was not overly impressed with it or, for that matter, much of anything she heard from the man who is, by default, her party’s leading gubernatorial candidate.

“I was underwhelmed, yeah,” she said.

The off-putting, and dodging answers to those questions will likely turn away more Democrats than they will attract. And when asked about his voting for Bush, he dodges and tries to focus on being asked to serve as an ambassador. It seems painfully obvious that he can’t say what he wants to say. Which is he thought Bush was the better choice than his Democratic challengers in those four races.

There’s more coverage of this week’’s forum from the FWST, At Democratic gathering, Fort Worth attorney Tom Schieffer is asked about his connections to Bush, DMN, Democratic candidate for governor Tom Schieffer pressed about past votes for Bush at monthly luncheon, and the AAS, Schieffer expounds on Bush, taxes, gays in military and the online investor who hasn’t asked for his money back. Do you see a pattern?

Schieffer and former President Bush are old friends, and if that’s all there had been Democrats probably wouldn’t be too troubled. Same goes for his ambassadorship. But if he continues to be unwilling to answer these questions in a straightforward way, he’s not likely to make it out of the Democratic Primary.

“Did I agree with everything that George Bush did? No. But I suspect that there’d be no president you would agree with everything they do. But I hope that we’ve not come to a point in Texas or the country that if you’re asked to serve the country, then that disqualifies from holding public office.”

What are some of those things he disagreed with? Torture, illegal wiretapping, the US attorney’s scandal, the Iraq War, or something else? An explanation would be good. It’s admirable that Schieffer feels sorry for his friend and doesn’t want to shine a light on any of his many mistakes. That will serve him well in future business endeavors.

Schieffer’s strategy appears to be to hope that he can somehow get through the Democratic Primary. He may be able to if the Democratic field for governor stays as it is now. If former Travis County DA Ronnie Earle gets in the race there will at least be a choice for Democrats. If he does get through the primary he hopes enough Democrats will forget all of this, and accept his non-answers about his past, enough to vote for him in the general election. That along with swaying enough former Republicans and Independents to vote for him to become Governor of Texas. Not saying it’s a good strategy, but it is a strategy.

If the field stays as it is right now, and Schieffer winds up at the top of the ticket for governor, it’s unlikely those that worked so hard for Barack Obama will do the same for Schieffer. It would be much more productive to run a Democrat for Governor that never voted for Bush for anything. Someone who will fight for what Democrats believe in and advance those causes in the campaign. In other words offer Texans a clear choice. Someone who, even if they lose, will be moving the party forward and into the future. Someone who won’t run as a Republican-lite, or Shivercrat. We’ve had too much of that in Texas in the recent past and it never wins or helps Democrats in the long run.

In Texas Democrats need candidates up and down the ticket that inspire, that will get the base and grassroots of the party fired up and working for them. That is the only way Democrats can overcome the GOP in Texas. Unfortunately for Tom Schieffer his past will keep that from happening.

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