Dan Patrick to President Obama: “Words Matter”

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Last night, ABC held a town hall with President Obama on race and policing in the United States. They invited people from across the country to represent the different perspectives on the issue and promised a no holds-barred debate. Perhaps that is why they invited Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who called Black Lives Matter protesters in Dallas “hypocrites” following the sniper shooting in that city.

Seating him on the front row next to the fifteen year old son of Alton Sterling, the first glimpse of Patrick shows him taking up space – quite literally. His arm is on the back of the chair next to him, and his crossed leg sticks out into the stage making his boot unavoidable in the opening shot. But, what else would we expect from the radio personality turned state leader?

Patrick was one of the first called on to pose a question to the president, following the son of Alton Sterling and the girlfriend of Philando Castille, both of whom showed incredible poise given their very recent traumatic loss of loved ones in such a public and violent way.

Then, there’s Dan Patrick.

Recalling Patrick’s calling the protesters in Dallas “hypocrites” for expecting the police to protect them while they ran from gunfire, the host asked Patrick, “What would you like to see from the President?”

What did this incredibly vocal opponent of almost everything President Obama has ever done have to say to the Commander in Chief?

“Words matter.”

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, for whom impulsive and dangerous speech seems to be a default setting, went on national television to ask the president to think before he speaks.

This is the guy who used anti-immigrant rhetoric in his campaign ads in order to win a primary, who filed legislation regarding abortion care that has no basis in medical fact, and who, most recently, used his words and his platform to fight for the continued discrimination against transgender children in Texas public schools.

Let’s let Dan Patrick, paragon of conscientious conversation, speak for himself:

    “I would as you to consider being careful when there is an incident, of not being too quick to condemn the police without due process… I know that is not your intention, but, again, words have meaning.”

To his credit, and to no one’s surprise, the president delivered a mostly composed response stressing that he has never supported violence against any person and that this is evident in all of his remarks.

But someone left the microphone with Dan Patrick, who took the opportunity to interrupt the president, suggesting that whatever he might say, police officers don’t really know “in their hearts” that the president supports them.

In a move that shows why he is such an incredible statesman, the president pivoted from this ridiculous comment to data that shows there are discrepancies in the experiences of people of color and white people in America, and to the importance of not interpreting critique as attack when it comes to addressing these real issues with our law enforcement policies.

Thankfully, that was the end of Patrick’s involvement in a town hall that otherwise featured a deep and meaningful conversation about our country’s future – but as Texans know, not the end of our embarrassment over our Lieutenant Governor. Thanks, Danny!


About Author

Genevieve Cato

Genevieve Cato is a feminist activist and a native Texan. While not writing for the Burnt Orange Report, she can be found working for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, serving as a community member of the Communications Committee for the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, and drinking copious amounts of pretentious local craft beers.

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