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March 14, 2019

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Austin City Limits:

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, asked staff writer Lawrence Wright to “explain Texas.” Why would Wright choose to live there? “I hope this book,” says Wright, “answers the question.” But the book—God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State—does not explain Texas. It does not even explain why Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker chooses to live in Texas, a question of limited interest. It is not, as it proposes to be, a meditation on the culture and politics of Texas and their influence on the wider American scene. It is an overflowing slop-bucket of ignorance, laziness, and snobbery in the shape of a book.

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Those errors come alongside some truly strange assertions. Wright complains that he knew no liberals and hardly any Democrats growing up in a state that was at the time almost uniformly Democratic and whose political foundation was New Deal liberalism. (I myself grew up not far from New Deal, Texas, surrounded by cotton farmers who would barely spit the word “Republican”—but then, I worked at 7-Eleven and think Buc-ee’s is pretty interesting, so I suppose I have unfair advantages.) Only four of Dallas’s 59 theoretically nonpartisan mayors have been Republicans, and none served before the 1980s. Rick Perry first held office as a Democrat (his CV does not emphasize his energetic support for the presidential campaign of Al Gore) and Texas did not go all meshuga Republican until the 1990s. The state didn’t have a Republican governor between Reconstruction and the Reagan era. If Wright didn’t know any Democrats, he wasn’t looking very hard.

Who does Wright think he is, Barack Obama?