January 8, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: San Antonio Express: Kinky Friedman is getting serious

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malaysia: Special Report: Author, Humorist and Malaysia RPCV Kinky Friedman: February 9, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: RPCV Kinky Friedman (Malaysia) : January 20, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: Gay Issues: Dallas Voice: Kinky Friedman supports Gay Marriage in race for Governer of Texas : January 8, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Malaysia: Writing - Malaysia: Humor: Election2006 - Friedman: San Antonio Express: Kinky Friedman is getting serious

By Admin1 (admin) (adsl-70-240-139-65.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Thursday, February 02, 2006 - 10:06 am: Edit Post

Kinky Friedman is getting serious

Kinky Friedman is getting serious

If Friedman is getting more serious, the reason is simple: The race itself is getting more serious. A Zogby Poll, released in November, indicated 21 percent of likely voters would cast their ballots for Friedman, compared to 41 percent for Perry. It is still an uphill climb, but Friedman and his supporters can see the mountaintop. Author, Musician, and candidate for Governor of Texas, Kinky Friedman served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia in the 1960's.

Kinky Friedman is getting serious

Friedman a serious poliltician? Why not?

Web Posted: 01/08/2006 12:00 AM CST

Robert Seltzer
Associate Editorial Page Editor

Friedman's youth vote coordinator, Meagan Wilder, works diligently at his campaign headquarters in Austin last week. His staff, dedicated to electing the musician/author to office, doesn't consider the campaign a joke.

Oh, Friedman is a politician, all right. But if there is any connection between the "Kinkster" and the other Texas gubernatorial candidates, the bond is superficial. All have bumper stickers — or soon will have.

How many of his rivals, though, will boast bumper stickers as irreverent as this: "Kinky Friedman, why the hell not?" Imagine driving along Interstate 10 and spotting this slogan on the back of a pickup: "Rick Perry, why the hell not?" Or this from Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Republican who announced last week she will run as an independent: "Strayhorn for governor, how hard can it be?"

But back to that red meat. Friedman, an independent, cannot pander to his base because he has no base. And if he did, he would not know what it was.

"I support gay marriage, and I support prayer in school," he said, sitting in the living room of his cabin in Medina last month. "You know why I support prayer in school? What's wrong with a kid believing in something?"

Friedman paused, letting his comments sink in.

"No committee would ever come up with me as a candidate," he said. "Red meat? My base is the people of Texas."

Friedman, author, humorist and country music singer, has an effective delivery — dry, terse and biting. He makes pronouncements without making them sound like pronouncements. His messages — some of which he has repeated so often that they have turned into slogans — are rooted in common sense and wry humor.

Some observers are starting to see more common sense and less wry humor. What gives? Kinky Friedman without punch lines is like Rick Perry without hair spray.

Don Imus, whose nationally syndicated radio show is simulcast on cable TV, supports Friedman, who announced his candidacy on the morning program. That was back in February. Friedman, his face turning pink in the pre-dawn cold, stood in front of the Alamo, full of enthusiasm and one-liners.

"I got 37 write-in votes in the Iraqi election," he deadpanned.

Imus wants that Kinkster back. He noted recently that Friedman is getting too serious, that his humor is drowning in a sea of murky issues. Where is the Friedman who could barbecue opponents with nothing hotter than his cigar and his wit?

Courtesy Photo

Staffers are mailing the Kinky Friedman action doll across the country to drum up support.

"I don't know if I'm getting more serious or not," he said, puffing on his ubiquitous cigar in his Hill Country cabin. "What politicians lack is a sense of humor, a sense of reality and a sense of community service. That's what I bring to the party.

"The only time the Democrats and Republicans get off their asses is to attack each other. The Democrats can't get any traction, and the Republicans can't get any legislation. Why the hell not?"

If Friedman is getting more serious, the reason is simple: The race itself is getting more serious. A Zogby Poll, released in November, indicated 21 percent of likely voters would cast their ballots for Friedman, compared to 41 percent for Perry. It is still an uphill climb, but Friedman and his supporters can see the mountaintop.

"The poll was exciting news," Friedman said. "If we win, we'll see bluebonnets springing up all over Texas. It won't be an election. It will be an epiphany."

So Friedman is out campaigning, spreading his vision to supporters in San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley. He appealed for funds at the Willie Nelson picnic in October, raising about $150,000. Friedman said Bob Dylan told him he wanted to help out

"They were in Dylan's bus, Willie and Dylan, on tour in Fort Worth, before the picnic," Friedman recalled. "And Dylan calls me up, and he says he wants some Kinky campaign posters, one for the bus, one for his boxing gym and one for his office."

Then Nelson, apparently thinking Friedman was more adept with words than numbers, got back on the line after Dylan was through.

"That's three posters, Kinky," Nelson told the candidate. "Three."

As he maneuvers his way through the campaign, Friedman recalls some valuable advice that former President Bill Clinton gave him when the two met in Austin recently.

"He told me, 'Pick two issues that are close to your heart and hammer them home,'" Friedman said.

So he has picked education and immigration. The state government, he said, has botched both issues. So he supports pay raises for teachers, and he has outlined a bizarre plan to protect the border.

"You take five Mexican generals and give them a bank account of $1 million each," he said. "Then every time a Mexican national gets caught crossing illegally, you withdraw $5,000 from the general responsible for that sector."

Could the plan generate the same kind of controversy that the Minutemen, which some officials view as vigilante groups, have generated on this side of the border?

"Look," he said, "I'm just opening this up for discussion. You don't get anywhere unless you talk about it first. No one is talking in Texas. They're afraid to."

Clinton gave Friedman another piece of advice.

"It's funny," Friedman said. "He told me, 'Kinky, what connects you to the people is humor. Don't ever lose it.'"

As an independent, he will try to maintain his humor while pursuing a serious task, getting 45,539 voters to sign a petition. If he does, his name will be on the November ballot.

But there is a rub: Only those who do not vote in the Republican or Democratic primaries can sign the petition, and he has only two months in which to get all the signatures — one month if the primary races force runoffs.

"I'll be busy," he said, "but I hope to have my talking action figure do a lot of the work for me."

Ah, yes, the talking action figure, a 13-inch-tall replica of the man himself, made of the same material that Friedman says went into making Perry — plastic. The doll is his Mini Me. He loves it.

"If I'm a rodeo clown, remember it's the clown who saves the cowboy," he said.

It is one of the delicious ironies of this race, but if anything reflects the seriousness of the campaign, it is the talking action figure. Friedman is offering the dolls on his Web site, and his campaign workers have started sending them off to cities throughout the country. They work together, volunteers and staffers, panting and sweating as they stuff the dolls into boxes.

"It's hard work, but it's worth it," Layton Hayes, 24, a volunteer who runs a graphic design business in Austin, said. "I saw Kinky on 'Imus' one morning, and I was really attracted to his approach. It wasn't necessarily his stance on the issues. It was that he seemed to care. I think we need a nonpolitical politician running the state."

The campaign headquarters, a 12,000-square-foot building in Austin, is bursting with dolls, T-shirts and enthusiasm, although volunteers and staffers realize that the struggle will require the same kind of sweat equity they devote to packing the talking action figures.

"I'm committed to this effort," Haley Johnson, 18, a receptionist at the headquarters, said.

A freshman at the University of the Incarnate Word, she started working for the campaign as an intern in a political science class.

"I got so involved that I'm working full time now," she said. "They're holding my scholarship for me. This has changed my life."

Trying to capitalize on that enthusiasm throughout the state, campaign officials are coordinating petition signature drives in key counties, including Bexar.

"Everything depends on getting him on the ballot," Reid Nelson, a staffer who is heading the petition drive, said. "It's going to be a challenge, but I'm optimistic. It's going to happen."

Is two months — or one month, in the case of a runoff — enough time to get all the signatures?

"We could use six months," Mark Leszkiewicz, another staffer, said.

With the calendar their biggest enemy, the workers have to compress six months into two — or one. And, as the struggle proceeds, they are encouraged by the success of their spiritual godfather. That would be Jesse Ventura, the ex-wrestler who overcame similar odds to become the governor of Minnesota in 1998.

"Jesse wasn't anywhere near 21 percent in a poll at this point in the campaign," campaign director Dean Barkley, who also ran the campaign for Ventura almost 10 years ago, said. "That's remarkable. Kinky just has to keep on being Kinky. People are so frustrated with politics."

Yet while that iconoclasm attracts some people, it may repel others. Friedman likes to talk issues, but in the midst of the discussions, it is clear that he is still formulating his positions on some of those topics. Will his groping for answers prove a liability?

"To expect the governor himself to come up with all the answers is crazy," Barkley said. "There's enough people who want to do the right thing. They just need to be inspired, and Kinky can do that."

John Jordan, another campaign worker, agrees.

"Just as some politicians have good hair, Kinky has a good aura," he said. "He's charismatic and thoughtful, and he can get people to listen to him."

But to do that, Friedman may have to get more serious. Then, again, no matter how somber he gets, his wit always intrudes. Always.

"If you're poor, you better not be born in Texas," he said.

Then, apparently tired of discussing how serious he has become, Friedman launched into a series of one-liners.

"I'd rather be a dead Gram Parsons than a live Garth Brooks."

"I don't think Rick Perry is the devil. I think he's the devil's valet."

"I'll keep us out of war with Oklahoma."

"I don't have many supporters, but the ones I have all own guns."

"Texas has a Capitol built for giants, but it's inhabited by midgets."

"I'm going to de-wussify Texas if I have to do it one wuss at a time."

Friedman getting serious about the campaign?

How hard can it be?


When this story was posted in January 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Top Stories: January 3, 2006 Date: January 3 2006 No: 772 Top Stories: January 3, 2006
Tony Hall leaving ambassador's post 8 Dec
Military aims to bolster language skills 2 Jan
Isaiah Zagar rescuing Magic Garden 1 Jan
Taylor Hackford won't produce J Lo in Carmen 31 Dec
Rupert writes on militants' aid in Quake Zone 29 Dec
Toledo bows on Military Human Rights Violations 29 Dec
Tim Shriver supports movie "The Ringer" 26 Dec
Josh Busby writes: How Healthy is the NPCA? 24 Dec
Congressional Victory on Peace Corps/Military Option 22 Dec
PC Fellows Nursing Program doubles at JHU 19 Dec
PCVs team with Mexican scientists on water quality 17 Dec
Farr denounces Pentagon spying at UCSC 17 Dec
Jack Anderson dies at 83 17 Dec
Theroux criticizes rock star badgering on Africa 15 Dec
James Walsh opposes Maoist revolution in Nepal 15 Dec
Scott Stossel appointed acting editor of "The Atlantic" 15 Dec
Oklahoma has highest percentage increase in PCVs 15 Dec
Sargent Shriver honored at JFK Library 13 Dec
Blackwill says torture may be appropriate 13 Dec
Bill Moyers for President? 13 Dec
Kinky Friedman files papers to run for governor 8 Dec

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

PC establishes awards for top Volunteers Date: November 9 2005 No: 749 PC establishes awards for top Volunteers
Gaddi H. Vasquez has established the Kennedy Service Awards to honor the hard work and service of two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members. The award to currently serving volunteers will be based on a demonstration of impact, sustainability, creativity, and catalytic effect. Submit your nominations by December 9.

Robert F. Kennedy - 80th anniversary of his birth Date: November 26 2005 No: 757 Robert F. Kennedy - 80th anniversary of his birth
"Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change."

Peace Corps at highest Census in 30 years Date: October 22 2005 No: 745 Peace Corps at highest Census in 30 years
Congratulations to the Peace Corps for the highest number of volunteers in 30 years with 7,810 volunteers serving in 71 posts across the globe. Of course, the President's proposal to double the Peace Corps to 15,000 volunteers made in his State of the Union Address in 2002 is now a long forgotten dream. With deficits in federal spending stretching far off into the future, any substantive increase in the number of volunteers will have to wait for new approaches to funding and for a new administration. Choose your candidate and start working for him or her now.

'Celebration of Service' a major success Date: October 10 2005 No: 730 'Celebration of Service' a major success
The Peace Corps Fund's 'Celebration of Service' on September 29 in New York City was a major success raising approximately $100,000 for third goal activities. In the photo are Maureen Orth (Colombia); John Coyne (Ethiopia) Co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund; Caroline Kennedy; Barbara Anne Ferris (Morocco) Co-founder; Former Senator Harris Wofford, member of the Advisory Board. Read the story here.

PC apologizes for the "Kasama incident" Date: October 13 2005 No: 737 PC apologizes for the "Kasama incident"
The District Commissioner for the Kasama District in Zambia issued a statement banning Peace Corps activities for ‘grave’ social misconduct and unruly behavior for an incident that occurred on September 24 involving 13 PCVs. Peace Corps said that some of the information put out about the incident was "inflammatory and false." On October 12, Country Director Davy Morris met with community leaders and apologized for the incident. All PCVs involved have been reprimanded, three are returning home, and a ban in the district has since been lifted.

The Peace Corps Library Date: March 27 2005 No: 536 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related stories in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can find hundreds of stories about what RPCVs with your same interests or from your Country of Service are doing today. If you have a web site, support the "Peace Corps Library" and link to it today.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: San Antonio Express

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Malaysia; Writing - Malaysia; Humor; Election2006 - Friedman


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.