in Houston, Texas
Channeling Edward R. Murrow: Texas House Speaker Straus and challenger Chisum invoke phrases similar to civil rights movement, McCarthy era
Thursday, Nov 11, 2010, 02:53PM CST
By Mark Lisheron

When these upstart Tea Party conservatives started talking about taking America back to the way it used to be, I guess they weren't kidding.

Turn on the old Philco TV and there he is, Edward R. Murrow, wreathed in curls of smoke from the Camel straight in his yellowed (all right, black and white) fingers. It's See it Now, his famous 1950s news program.

It must be about the civil rights movement. The picture is pretty grainy. Got to get up on the roof and move that antenna around. Is that Paul Robeson, the blacklisted winner of the Stalin Peace Prize and scourge of Jim Crow laws? No, he's a lot smaller. And white. Why, it's State Rep. Warren Chisum, the Pampa Pummeler, running for speaker of the Texas House.

Chisum is telling Murrow that House Republicans are in bondage, shackled to the pledge cards they signed in support of Joe Straus, the current speaker. He wants them released from their pledges so that he might solicit their support. Joseph Welch, chief counsel for the U.S. Army who stood up to a blistering cross-examination by McCarthy during a hearing watched on television by millions. After that hearing, McCarthy's descent was swift and final.

"Have you no shame," Welch tells Murrow he told McCarthy. But that's not right. What Welch said was better, more powerful. "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last," was what he really said to McCarthy. "Have you left no sense of decency?"

Maybe it's because it isn't Welch at all, but Speaker Straus, who looks a bit like him. Straus tells Murrow he was standing up to Chisum and his "scorched-earth campaign," to steal the House leadership from him. He holds in his hand a list of 125, a list of names known as being members of the Republican party and who, nevertheless, are still working and shaping policy on behalf of Straus.

After one last commercial, the one with cute little Speedy Alka Seltzer, Murrow brings Chisum and Straus on together. They are shouting at one another. "How many years can some people exist, before they're allowed to be free?" Chisum practically spits at Straus, who is looking not at Chisum, but skyward. "We shall overcome, we shall overcome," he keeps repeating.

Murrow cuts away to Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, who has voiced her support for Straus. "This is politics at its ugliest," Truitt said. Murrow turns away from her and stares straight into the camera, the cigarette smoke nearly shrouding him.

"Begging Rep. Truitt's pardon, there have been much uglier politics," Murrow said, signing off. "Good night and good luck."

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2381 or at

David Edwards
Monday, 12/06/2010 - 11:24AM

WE Need a conservative voice not Straus.

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