Writers Block

The Texas Tribune is reporting that Paul Burka has been blocked from asking questions in the gubernatorial debate on January 14Texas Monthly has now withdrawn their sponsorship of the debate. The objection to Burka came from the campaign of Kay Bailey Hutchison because: “He’s got his mind made up on the race.” The Texas Tribune article details all of Burka’s comments about the KBH campaign.

I’ve been reading Burka’s writing on Texas politics since I was in college. I often disagree with his analysis, but I always find it interesting and worthwhile. Let me offer up a few points in his defense:

  1. At the beginning of this campaign there were numerous comments on his blog about his alleged fondness for KBH and his dislike of Rick Perry. Suddenly, he’s too anti-Hutchison to even be allowed ask questions? Burka has challenged all sides and the fact that everyone has been unhappy suggests that Burka is doing a thorough job.
  2. Some posters are complaining about the liberal bias of Texas Monthly. That may be true of the magazine overall. However, Burka defended/supported George W. Bush (long after many “Republicans”) and has offered some very strong indictments of the Democrats in Texas. I’ve seen Burka accused of every kind of bias imaginable. These complaints generally have more to do with people not wanting to hear their heroes criticized and not having good answers to his questions.
  3. One rationale for excluding him is that he’s an “opinion writer.” Burka does express opinions. Most writers do. However, he focuses offering analysis of political skill. Burka’s blogging is not ideological.
    Further, I wouldn’t call Burka’s analysis of KBH’s campaign “opinion.” It seems clear that KBH’s campaign is underperforming. In fact, is anyone reporting anything different? Personally, I think Burka could be one of KBH’s best friends in this campaign. He is offering a clear warning that the campaign is going nowhere and is need of an overhaul. The campaign staff apparently isn’t going to admit when they’re doing a bad job. The problem is: Burka is right. Efforts to keep Burka off that panel make the Senator look petty or fearful.
  4. Finally, Burka is an institution in this state. Maybe he is overrated. Maybe he is biased. Maybe he is pining away for KBH. However, he’s widely read by inside and outside of government and all over the political spectrum.  You can’t run from him and you’re not ready to run this state if you’re not ready to face the questions he poses.

So, answer Burka’s questions.

Since Debra Medina has been denied a spot in the debate, maybe Burka should interview her. Then we could see two things Perry and KBH are running from all in the same room.


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