Back in January, Senate Democrats rightly argued that the Legislature should take up serious issues — unemployment, insurance reform, etc. — before getting bogged down in the GOP's top 2009 priority: protecting their power by building a wall between Texans and the ballot box with burdensome, multiple-ID requirements for voters. Republicans even trashed the Senate rules in order to protect themselves.
Now, House Republicans have once again made voter suppression their priority. It was placed at the top of the calendar, ahead of Texas Department of Insurance Sunset, ahead of unemployment insurance, ahead of windstorm. House Dems have made several good faith efforts to get on with work on these issues. They attempted several times to suspend the rules to move these issues ahead of Voter I.D. Republicans said no. Over and over and over again.
In other words, the GOP is holding these important bills hostage while claiming that it's their opponents' fault. They've kidnapped insurance reform, then called the police (the press) to report the kidnapping, claiming its others doing the hostage-taking. And right there in broad daylight they're refusing over and over again to release their hostages. It's just a version of the old story about the adulterer caught red-handed, “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?”
The GOP Strategy: Our Way Or the Highway.
We've seen this before. Under Tom Craddick. You know, the former speaker chased from office because of his disregard for his own members, the state's interests, or any interest other than his own.
Craddick's back. The Strausian waltz of good feeling, never much more than a tenuous hope, has disappeared altogether into Craddick-driven ugliness and ill-will. Make no mistake, Craddick is pulling the strings, and he is greatly enjoying the fact that he has organized an impasse that's making Straus squirm.
This is a case of a very old and mangey tail wagging a young dog.
Straus can cut off that tail. And return the House to more pressing matters. This is Straus' first real opportunity to show he's not Craddick. He can, if he will find a way to put the critical bills ahead of voter I.D., demonstrate that the interests of Texans and the membership of the House come before partisanship. Or, he can catch the Craddick Mange.