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Presidential Campaign, Infighting at UT, and the Dallas Cowboys

Oops! (A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail)
Jay Root

Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root has written a book about the Perry presidential run called “Oops! A Diary From the 2012 Campaign Trail.” The latest issue of Texas Monthly says there’s a battle over the future of UT; Paul Burka is the Texas Monthly senior editor and wrote the article “Storming the Ivory Tower.” Joe Nick Patoski talks about writing his new book: “The Dallas Cowboys: the outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America.”

Oops! (A Diary from the 2012 Campaign Trail)

With less than 40 days before the end of the presidential election, the days of the primary debates seem like ancient history. For a while, Governor Rick Perry seemed like the guy who was going to capture the conservative votes, bundle up the pro-business backers and ride a wave of Texas economic success to win the GOP nomination.

However, it didn’t work out that way, and some people say it was because of his infamous debate gaff.


Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root has written a book about the Perry presidential run and says that Perry’s mental lapse was caused by a lack of sleep.

"I think that he was not healthy, really. He was suffering from pretty severe sleep deprivation. I report on the sleep apnea that was diagnosed during the campaign. They brought in sleep specialists - there was this sort of frenzied attempt to get him back sleeping again. There was sleep apnea, he also had a nerve problem in his foot that was bothering him, causing him a lot of pain and keeping him up at night. Once those issues got better he was able to exercise and get back into the gym and get more energy; the campaign feels like he started performing better but it was just too late, the damage had been done."

"It was kept under wraps. One advisor told me that he thought about: 'Would this be a good thing to get out there?' But they felt like while Perry was still in the race that it would seem like excuse making. So a decision was made to not bring it out publicly."

"Most of this book is my diary, and you are taken along for the ride of a presidential campaign that begins and you're thinking: 'Oh my God, this guy's going to be the nominee. We're going to be in Tampa in the summer of next year covering his acceptance speech.' Then you hit a few bumps, and then you fall like a hole in the pavement and the car went in. It was a spectacular collapse, and for those of us who have watched him for all these years, everybody knew there was something that was off, that he could do better than this. Sure, debating is not his strong suit - everybody knows that - but this was something altogether different. This was a level of performing below expectations that nobody saw coming."

"Storming the Ivory Tower"

Texas Monthly Senior Editor Paul Burka

There are a few major institutions in Texas that have the ability to reach the entirety of this massive state – one of them is the University of Texas. The Austin campus is more or less a neighbor of the state capital and is a leading public university for scientific research and academic achievement.  But tuition is skyrocketing, enrollment is bursting at the seams, students are graduating with massive student debt while questions are being asked about the actual worth of a college degree these days.

Credit Photo illustration by Image Foundation. Tower photograph by Wyatt McSpadden.
Texas Monthly Cover for October 2012

Does the school need to be reformed? The latest issues of Texas Monthly says there’s a battle over the future of UT – Paul Burka is the Texas Monthly senior editor and wrote the article “Storming the Ivory Tower.”

"They are battling over who is going to run UT. Is it going to be the leadership of the university? Or is it going to be the Governor's Office and his allies? And I think that is really what this is all about. The governor has immersed himself deeply into the running of the University of Texas, and there have been some decisions made, and statements made, in which various regents including Chairman Powell have made policy statements about what they think the University of Texas should do in the future that are not consistent with the mission of UT to be a university of the first class."

"The reason you should be concerned is that higher education is an extremely vital part of Texas and (the) things that state government does. They have these statistics they quote, that for every dollar that is spent on research at UT it returns $18 to the economy, but I do think that having two or three good universities is really important. A lot of incredible things have come out of UT and A&M over the years - great research - but also a lot of really smart people, who are essentially the future leaders of Texas. So I think it's extremely important to have great universities."

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America

Author Joe Nick Patoski

Another institution that every Texan has something to say about is the Dallas Cowboys. It’s (almost) a safe bet that everyone in the state has something in their wardrobe that salutes the blue and silver Pokes. Author Joe Nick Patoski says the Cowboys are more than just a team.

Dallas Cowboys
Credit Joe Nick Patoski
Joe Nick Patoski's new book about the cultural phenomena that is the Dallas Cowboys.

"When it comes to Texas there is no sport bigger than football, and when it comes to football there is no institution as big and wide-ranging and symbolic as the Dallas Cowboys. Sorry Aggies, sorry Longhorns and sorry Houston Texans, there is nothing as globally significant as this football team. It's a brand now that's known, not just throughout Texas and the nation, but it's a global brand. And when you look at that blue star with the white outline, that's right up there with Coca-Cola is this logo that is instantly recognizable and you see it all around the world."

"Clint Murchison's ownership defines one regime; the first regime. This is a team based on excellence, style, a look, really innovative - the first team to use computers for scouting. Texas Stadium, the first made-for-football stadium in the modern era and actually the first football stadium made for television. Tex Schramm saw the future of this sport as a television sport like no other sport. Now the second regime, which is defined by the owner Jerry Jones, may have been very successful at first. Within five years you have Jerry Jones the owner and Jimmy Johnson the coach come in and they are winning Super Bowls. Under Jones' leadership and ownership, three Super Bowl Championships in four years, but since 1996 you have a very average football team with a .500 record - no great shakes. We should be talking about them like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the St. Louis Rams, but what Jones did as an owner was monetized the team and increased the value of the team at a time when the whole league monetized. The NFL really transitioned from a football league into the biggest entertainment in America. 18 of the top 20 viewed television programs in 2011 were football games, and the majority of those involved the Dallas Cowboys."

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi