RIP Ann Richards

Ann Richards has died of cancer at age 73. In her honor I would like to repeat the line she became famous for at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, speaking of then Vice President George H. W. Bush. “Poor George, he can’t help it…He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

It is also worth remembering some of what she said after this famous line:

Well, no wonder. No wonder we can’t figure it out. Because the leadership of this nation is telling us one thing on TV and doing something entirely different. They tell us — They tell us that they’re fighting a war against terrorists. And then we find out that the White House is selling arms to the Ayatollah. They — They tell us that they’re fighting a war on drugs and then people come on TV and testify that the CIA and the DEA and the FBI knew they were flying drugs into America all along. And they’re negotiating with a dictator who is shoveling cocaine into this country like crazy. I guess that’s their Central American strategy.

Now they tell us that employment rates are great, and that they’re for equal opportunity. But we know it takes two paychecks to make ends meet today, when it used to take one. And the opportunity they’re so proud of is low-wage, dead-end jobs. And there is no major city in America where you cannot see homeless men sitting in parking lots holding signs that say, “I will work for food.”

Now my friends, we really are at a crucial point in American history. Under this Administration we have devoted our resources into making this country a military colossus. But we’ve let our economic lines of defense fall into disrepair. The debt of this nation is greater than it has ever been in our history. We fought a world war on less debt than the Republicans have built up in the last eight years. You know, it’s kind of like that brother-in-law who drives a flashy new car, but he’s always borrowing money from you to make the payments.

Well, but let’s take what they are most proudest of — that is their stand of defense. We Democrats are committed to a strong America, and, quite frankly, when our leaders say to us, “We need a new weapons system,” our inclination is to say, “Well, they must be right.” But when we pay billions for planes that won’t fly, billions for tanks that won’t fire, and billions for systems that won’t work, “that old dog won’t hunt.” And you don’t have to be from Waco to know that when the Pentagon makes crooks rich and doesn’t make America strong, that it’s a bum deal.

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