Why Kinky Did Not Play "The Gay Card"

Kinky Friedman got naked for this Observer photo shoot three years ago. No way he regrets it now.

There's a huge cover story about The Jewboy Who Would Be Governor, Kinky Friedman, in the new issue of The Weekly Standard (not even makin' that up). It wonders of Friedman's candidacy, "Is it good for the Texans?," a reference to Stephen Schwartz's recent book Is It Good for the Jews? The Crisis of America's Israel Lobby--and a question my parents often ask of me, matter of fact. The Weekly Standard piece doesn't say much you couldn't have read, oh, here a year ago--with two notable exceptions.

First, he lays into a Dallas Morning News story from September 24 in which Christy Hoppe refuted Friedman's contention that Texas ranks last in the country in education. "Texas is 40th in spending per student," Hoppe wrote, "and there is no category assessed by the National Education Association in which Texas is last." Writer Matt Labash asked Friedman about the piece, and this is what he had to say: "Oh fuck that lady! We're forty-third, not fiftieth--yaaayyyyy!"

Then, toward the end of the story, Labash accompanies Friedman to Dallas for the one and only gubernatorial debate in early October, which would prove less a heated exchange of ideas than a dull quiz show in which everyone was the loser. Why Belo didn't get Alex Trebek to moderate the thing remains a mystery. Friedman fully expected to be grilled about several incidents in which he used language branded as racist by the Democrats who wanna push him out of the race, lest his spoil things for Chris Bell, and Republicans who would prefer to ignore Friedman all together. As Labash writes, "It's a bad rap for a guy who was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, who picketed segregation, who spent his entire irreverent music career making sport of the kind of yahoos they're suggesting he is."

Labash offers a great anecdote about the debate--one involving a comment he briefly considered using had Governor Rick Perry tried to use the race card. You read it for yourself; it might have made for great TV, but as Friedman says, "There's no mud on the high road." As for his own thoughts about his performance in the debate, during which Friedman unexpectedly looked a little like a man who hadn't spent most of his adult life on a stage, he says, "I stood toe to toe...and I feel good. Right now, I'm still voting for myself." --Robert Wilonsky

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