Book Review: “As Texas Goes …” By Gail Collins

“New York Times” columnist’s book isn't afraid to poke jabs at the politics of the Lone Star State.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins got interested
in Texas after a 2009 Tea Party rally at which Rick Perry toyed with the
idea of secession. But when a friend sent her a story out of Dallas—man
allegedly beat woman with frozen armadillo—she decided to devote a book to
the “scrappy” state. As Texas Goes . . . reads like a Collins
column: well researched, often funny. “If we lived in a world where
parents and teachers always got their first choice when it came to
teenagers’ sexual behavior,” she writes of Texas’s embrace of
abstinence-only sex ed, “Texas would be so in the vanguard.”

Texans’
political identity, she argues, is based on the myth that the state has so
much empty space that government isn’t really necessary. Fine, Collins
says, unless “a) There really isn’t plenty of room, or b) You are not
actually leaving me alone.” And she argues that Texas, through its
policies, isn’t leaving us alone. For example, its antipathy toward
federally funded contraception, she notes, leads to a high rate of
pregnancies among poor mothers in the US, 60 percent of whom qualify for
Medicaid. “Happy to be of help,” she writes, but shouldn’t all taxpayers
get to “at least make sure poor women who don’t want to be pregnant have
easy access to federally funded contraception?”

It’s hard to imagine Lone
Star politicians buying much in this book, but one thing’s inarguable:
Gail Collins ain’t afraid to mess with Texas.

This article appears in the June 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Publisher:
Liveright

Price:
$25.95

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