Jill Buckley once said this about Ann Richards, and I find that it is a very apt description.
“She’s sort of the female good old boy.”
From 1991 to 1995, Ann Richards was the Texas governor. She cut her political teeth, so to speak, as a Travis County commissioner elected in 1976. Later she moved to a larger playing field as the State Treasurer, winning the election in 1982 to become the first woman elected in Texas since Ma Ferguson. Richards won re-election as Treasurer in 1986, then made a winning bid for Texas governor in 1990.
She first acquired national attention by delivering a keynote speech at the 1988 Democratic National Convention when she popped out a beautiful quip about George H.W. Bush – stating he was “born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Sadly, she lost a re-election bid in 1994 to none other than George W. Bush (and we ALL know what that led to… what a different world we would live in but for that one sad event).
Richards portrayed herself as former Texas Governor Ann Richards in the animated series “King of the Hill” in an episode titled Hank and the Great Glass Elevator. Her sense of humor was incredible.
Richards left us for greener pastures in September, 2006, but please don’t ever forget her. She left an incredible legacy of success for women, diversity in government, and a plethora of delectable quotes. Some of our favorites are below.
11. You can put lipstick and earrings on a hog and call it Monique, but it’s still a pig.
Richards used several variations of this quote dating into the early 90s, but this exact variation was uttered at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York during a luncheon sponsored by high-level magazine publishers. The phrase, and variations of it, have been used frequently by many people because it so accurately describes the futility of some things.
10. Let me tell you that I am the only child of a very rough-talking father. So don’t be embarrassed about your language. I’ve either heard it or I can top it.
Never one to mince words, Richards ‘cussed like a sailor’ when she deemed it appropriate. She also conducted herself like a well-refined lady when that was required. Don’t ever discount the message just because it contains a few callous cuss words.
9. I’m not afraid to shake up the system, and government needs more shaking up than any other system I know.
Never one to accept the ‘status quo’ Richards spent her career walking her own path and fighting for the little people. Her governorship actually saved the state 600 million dollars and neatly shrank the size of government. Despite a national decrease in economic levels, Richards’ program for economic revitalization was instrumental in allowing an increase in the economic standing in Texas.
8. I did not want my tombstone to read, ‘She kept a really clean house.’ I think I’d like them to remember me by saying, ‘She opened government to everyone.’
Richards worked tirelessly to diversify Texas government. Perhaps one of her most notable achievements was adding African-Americans and women to the ranks of the Texas Rangers. Good thing too – Walker, Texas Ranger wouldn’t have been near as successful without his partner, Trivette.
7. Teaching was the hardest work I had ever done, and it remains the hardest work I have done to date.
Richards started out as a teacher, at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin from 1954 to 1957. She returned to it later in life and “served at Brandeis University as the Fred and Rita Richman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Politics from 1997 to 1998.” She served as a board trustee at the Waltham, Massachusetts university from 1998 until her death in 2006.
6. I believe in recovery, and I believe that as a role model I have the responsibility to let young people know that you can make a mistake and come back from it.
This is a life lesson many people could use. One mistake doesn’t ruin your entire life. You just back up, regroup, re-evaluate, then move forward again.
5. Women, it was painfully clear, weren’t going to be allowed to use their brains and I certainly wanted to use mine.
And use it she did. Outwitting and out maneuvering political opponents her entire career as both a candidate and political consultant. She started working on campaigns in 1950 and used her brains to assist many in their bid for office, in addition to gaining her own positions.
4. You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.
Included in a list titled “How to be Good Republican,” this quote is as true today as it was when she first developed it during the Clinton administration (circa 1999-2000, although no specific date is known).
3. You have to believe…everything Rush Limbaugh says.
Also from her list “How to be Good Republican,” this quote says it all. In order to be a good Republican, you must, above all else and no matter how outlandish and unbelievable it is, believe everything uttered by the GOP slam man.
2. Most of all, I remember those children in the classrooms and those kids who grabbed me around the knees, and I think of the old people who really need a voice when they’re trapped in wheelchairs in dirty nursing homes. The person in this office really must have a conscience to know that how they direct this government dramatically affects the lives of those people.
Always a warrior for the people. Having served in the trenches of our classrooms, she brought a refreshing attitude to government “for the people.” She is the last Texas governor to have exhibited real compassion in the office.
And my all-time favorite (drum roll please)
1. I get a lot of cracks about my hair, mostly from men who don’t have any.