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Texas needed help from an ‘illegitimate’ president
Dick Polman

Once upon a time - just a few weeks ago - Republicans in the great state of Texas were talking about seceding from the union. If memory serves, their state attorney general concocted a crackpot lawsuit that sought to overturn the free and fair presidential election, arguing that Joe Biden’s win was illegitimate.

Yep, it looked like Texas wanted to be its own red independent country, practicing its freedom far from the clutches of the socialist White House.

But suddenly, a few days ago, Texas’ Republican leaders did a 180-degree turn. They fell on their knees to President Biden, begging and pleading for his help. Suddenly, Biden was legit!

What the heck happened?

Reality happened.

MAGA propaganda about a “stolen election,” and all the attendant rhetoric about “secession,” is grist for weak minds most of the time. But when real life intrudes in the cruelest of ways - for instance, when mother nature dumps a killer winter storm on a state that can’t handle it and puts people’s lives in peril - all that idiot talk blows away in the wind.

On Saturday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott essentially said: “Please help us, President Biden.” Within hours, Biden answered the call. And on Sunday, oozing gratitude, Abbott shared the good news at home: “I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration...This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that help our communities respond to this winter weather.”

Isn’t that special. By the way, Ted Cruz also pleaded for federal help. This is the same Ted Cruz who opposed federal help for the blue northeastern states that were hammered by Hurricane Sandy. Perhaps Biden should’ve promised federal storm aid on the condition that Cruz be shipped to NASA in Houston and strapped onto the next rocket launch.

By the way, one of the reasons Texas urgently needs federal help is because its main power grid can’t handle the current storm. The reason its main power grid can’t handle the storm is because it’s not linked to the rest of the nation. The reason it’s not linked to the rest of the nation is because it was set up to defy the feds and avoid federal regulation. I kid you not.

And by the way, raging against Washington - then pleading for help - is a longstanding Texas two-step.

Back when the governor was Rick Perry (remember him?), he nurtured his presidential ambitions by fuming that the “oppressive” federal government was always “interfering with the affairs of our state.” Which was amusing, because he was always in constant pursuit of federal bucks - for farmer “drought assistance,” for local law enforcement, for disaster cleanups, for whatever federal money his Washington lobbyists could scavenge. (He paid those lobbyists 30 grand a month). 

But this was my favorite Texas two-step: On April 9, 2009, Perry put out a statement boasting about “Texas sovereignty” and state’s rights. On April 10, he put out another statement: “Gov. Perry Calls on FEMA to Assist the State in Fighting Wildfires.”

Anyway, one facet of the latest episode is particularly noteworthy. President Biden approved the plea for federal relief with all deliberate speed - without telling the state to buzz off because it hadn’t voted for him, without ranting that the red governor runs things horribly, without fuming that the state’s election lawsuit didn’t treat him nice, without offering to throw paper towels, without telling Texans who don’t like him to just rake the snow.

Instead, Biden just did his job this weekend - as he promised. This is what it’s like to have a president who believes he’s responsible for helping red and blue states alike - without favor, without partisan tantrums.

And his quick action should blunt the windbag Texas talk about secession and Washington oppression. Until next time.

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at