Gov. Greg Abbott is releasing his first book May 17, that follows the time-honored practice of slamming the federal government if you’re interested in trying to head it.
Abbott tells the story of an oak tree falling on him and crushing his back while he was jogging in Houston in 1984, and re-learning life confined to a wheelchair.
He combines that with the perseverance to carry on with his legal and political career, which has taken him to the Texas Supreme Court, 12 years as attorney general, and now the governor’s office.
An April 4 press announcement said Abbott’s book — “Broken But Unbowed: The Fight to Fix a Broken America” — “details his story of overcoming personal adversity and casts a vision of how, as a nation, we can restore the Constitution and address many of the problems our country faces today.”
Abbott, who half-jokingly described his job as attorney general as going to the office, suing the Obama administration, and going home, also half-jokes about his broken back. He often says, unlike some politicians, he has “literally, a spine of steel” since his accident.
The timing of the book is interesting. Abbott plans to tour with the book in Texas and nationally, including around the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July.
Governors and U.S. senators are the two most usual pools from which come the people who run for president, and are selected as vice-presidential running mates.
Although Abbott’s protégé and former solicitor general, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, is in the finals for the Republican presidential nomination, it’s possible that another nominee might pick as a vice-presidential sidekick a guy in a wheelchair who is governor of a big state.
Or, it could be that Abbott is working to raise his national profile that might lead to being on a national ticket in 2020, if Democrats retain the White House this year.
Or, it could put him on track to be chosen as U.S. attorney general, or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
It is almost a rite of passage for someone who’d like to be president to write a book first. Abbott’s two immediate predecessors as governor – Republicans George W. Bush and Rick Perry – both wrote books in advance of running for president.
Bush published “A Charge to Keep” in 1999, while running for the presidency in 2000. He won then, and again in 2004.
Perry published “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for” in 2008, and “Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington” in 2010.
The first book decried leftist values challenging traditional American values. “Fed Up!” called for returning power from the federal government to the states.
Perry ran for the Republican nomination in 2012 and 2016 – and lost both times.
Much of the book deals with Abbott’s ambitious proposal for a national convention to amend the U.S. Constitution, to debate and pass nine amendments he has proposed.
They include requiring a balanced budget, prohibiting congress from regulating any activity that is wholly within one state – which some say includes marriage and gun use – and letting states override some federal laws and decisions by the Supreme Court.
Abbott would also require a vote of seven of the nine Supreme Court members, instead of the usual five, to overturn any law passed by state legislatures or congress.
Article V of the constitution allows for two-thirds of the states – now 34 – to call for a constitutional convention to amend it. That would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states – 38 – to become part of the document.
That process has been attempted a few times, but never got far. All of the amendments since the 10 in the Bill of Rights have come by the congress proposing them and then the states ratifying them.
Abbott had unveiled his proposal in a Jan. 8 speech to the right-leaning Texas Public Policy Foundation in January. He also had a 92-page handout outlining his proposal.
Pre-orders of the book are available at www.gregabbott.com/book.
All proceeds from the book will be donated to Operation FINALLY HOME, a non-profit headquartered in Texas that provides custom-built, mortgage free homes to wounded, ill or injured veterans and widows and their families.
One letter-writer to the Austin American-Statesman recently said if the governor really wants to help veterans, he should agree to the expansion of Medicaid financed by the federal government.
Doing so, he said, would make medical care much more available in more rural areas of Texas, where there aren’t veterans’ hospitals.
It would, of course, also help about a million additional Texans obtain health care, and bring back billions of Texas federal tax dollars now going to other states.
DAVE MCNEELY is a politial columnist. You may contact him at email@example.com or (512) 458-2963.