Enrique Rangel wrote a sneaky article earlier this week about “legislative effectiveness” – who’s got it and who doesn’t. We wrote about it a few days ago.
The political point of his story was to create a category called “legislative effectiveness”, leave the definition foggy, but say enough to exclude principled conservatives like Jim Landtroop.
Rangel’s implication was that a legislator is “legislatively effective” if he got bills out of committee and/or passed. The problem is that moderate leadership regulates who does and doesn’t do this.
Essentially, to be “legislatively effective” in Rangel’s sense, you have to join the Speaker’s team, which means you have to become a moderate, which means you have to play constituents for fools to survive.
See why this ploy is so useful for people in power? Court journalists like Paul Burka have been using this “legislative effectiveness” strategy for years.
Rangel used Mark Jones, a political science professor from Rice, to legitimize his point. He used Jones to help him damage a major prop for principled conservatives – legislative report cards. Conservatives love report cards because they reveal who delivered on campaign promises in Austin. This is the same reason moderates can’t stand report cards.
So, Rangel introduced Jones by paraphrasing him about how “interest group” legislative report cards don’t judge legislative effectiveness.
In an interview with Jones earlier today, I asked him about “legislative effectiveness” as he was defining it in his discussion with Rangel. He said, “I don’t think he can really use the term. It’s very difficult to quantify and empirically measure. It’s a black box.”
Jones went on to say he spent much more time in his interview with Rangel talking about the way different legislative measures, including his own, actually work. In Jones’s mind the interview wasn’t about “legislative effectiveness” even though, in this writer’s opinion, that’s how Rangel used it.
By the same token, Jones said he thought his quotes in Rangel’s article were accurate.
There are as many definitions of “legislative effectiveness” as there are legislative agendas. The problem is, everyone in the Texas House of Representatives with an “R” next to his name runs on the principles that are only held to by the principled conservatives, which puts them out of power for now.
Rangel would like to discredit conservatives and the accountability measures (legislative report cards) that show their legislative superiority to moderates.
It’s tough for panhandle conservatives to wrangle much political truth from some journalists.