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William McKenzie: The Texas brand can’t be ignored


The following ran in the June 18, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News. Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

June 21, 2012

By William McKenzie

The Dallas television sequel landed Texas in the entertainment news headlines this month. Less publicized, but worth noting, is the fact that eight books are currently on the market about this state. The Texana explosion plays well here, and it also has relevance to the rest of America.

Two of the books deal with Lyndon Johnson, two with the Texas model of politics, two with Texas broadcasters Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, one with Texas-based ExxonMobil and one with prominent Texas lawyers Leon Jaworski and Jim Baker.

In other words, they cover the themes we’re known for: politics, storytelling, empire-building, diversity, oil, Republicanism and personalities.

I haven’t read them all, but it’s revealing that so many are out. Historian Douglas Brinkley, who wrote Cronkite, said in Dallas last week that Texas is in the center of American life for at least two reasons.

First, America remains in the age of Reaganism, and since Texas is the main Republican state, it naturally figures in the national discussion. The two politics books examine how we govern ourselves: Lone Star Tarnished is by SMU professor Cal Jillson, and As Texas Goes, is by New York Times columnist Gail Collins. Both pay too little attention to the benefits of Texas’ low-tax, lean-regulation politics, which contributes to an enviable unemployment rate. But the two also present issues that those who believe in limited government should consider if they want the Texas model to survive....