Ivins, Molly, The Nation
As far as Texas goes, the story is simple, and it could have been worse. Ann Richards was dragged out of office by the fact that 63 percent of the people in this state disapprove of Bill Clinton, and of that 63 percent, most of them can't stand him. Richards won by 100,000 votes in 1990: 120,000 new Texans have since registered as Republicans, most of them in the suburbs.
As Bush Brothers go, Shrub--George the Younger--is not bad. He's less mean and less right-wing than his brother Jeb and smarter than his brother Neil. Of course he's a know-nothing little pipsqueak compared with Ann Richards, but then, Richards is pretty special.
Both Bush and Richards ran mistake-free campaigns, but the problem was apparent from August on. One East Texas poll showed Richards's approval at 60 percent, even though she trailed Bush by 11 points. Given her personal popularity, a booming economy, lower crime rates and no scandal, the race should have been a walk for Richards. But Bush avoided attacking her personally and stuck to what he wants to do for Texas. Richards ran on her record without saying much about the future.
Because Texas has what political scientists call "the weak-governor system," a common Southern hangover from Reconstruction, Texas governors can't actually do much. Richards knows this, Bush doesn't, so he went around blithely promising to do this, that and the other. …