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'Wardrobe Dysfunction in Johnson County' - A Commentary

By Tom Dodge, KERA 90.1 commentator

Dallas, TX – Burleson is the town in Johnson County where the Sex Police made national news arresting a woman for instructing other women on bedroom utensils and their subtler functions. It was no surprise that after his cross-dressing photos came out, Sam Walls lost his state congressional run-off race in Johnson County - to a real-estate developer from Burleson.

Republicans in Johnson County run hard on what they call "family values." Before this political scandal occurred I asked a retired politician from Cleburne why a historically Democratic stronghold like Johnson County has gone almost totally Republican and he said, "Because the Democrats have turned their agenda over to the abortionists and homosexuals."

Cross-dressing does not equate with homosexuality but a lot of people think it does. County Republicans now include it in their forbidden list. The only sex acceptable to them I think is that practiced by the original Puritans. The problem is that no one seems to know exactly what this is. The Sex Police just come out to your house and tell you when you're not doing it right. So when the cross-dressing photos came out, the Johnson County Sheriff came out and advised Walls to get out of the race. I don't think he included "out of town" in his advice. Walls is still one of the richest dudes around. His father made his millions manufacturing men's work clothes.

To his credit, Walls refused to drop out, showing the same class he showed by refusing to invent a typical politician's cover story. He could have easily said the photographs were altered. Not only did he stay in the race, he didn't hide in shame.

There were letters in the Cleburne Times-Review quoting Deuteronomy, a book in the Bible condemning just about everybody. Walls did not deign to reply to these mean-spirited letters. Instead he attended a "M*A*S*H Bash," a charity party to raise money for the Iraq War effort. Part of the program was a Corporal Klinger look-alike contest featuring other Johnson County guys in dresses.

County leaders down at the Republican headquarters were desperate. They were trying to throw him overboard and a life raft at the same time. All they could come up with was a reference to, of all people, the old Republican cross-dressing champion himself, former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. If there was ever a time to say, "Get off my side," this was it.

Walls will probably verify that back at Cleburne High School, I was the big history man in Mr. Duff's class. I could have given them a Puritan precedent for the situation. In 1702, Lord Cornbury, a cross-dresser, was elected Governor of New York and went to work every day in women's clothes.

Also, how about the macho-man former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani who came to the New York Inner Circle Dinner in 1997 in a blond wig, pink dress and heels?

In her recent Atlantic Monthly article, "Conservative Men in Conservative Dresses," Amy Bloom writes that cross-dressing heterosexual men are "disproportionately represented among the retired military, predominately Christian and conservative." Their number represents about five percent of the population.

There are 73,000 registered voters in Johnson County; half, let's say, are men. So it is something that approximately 1,825 voters in Johnson County do.

They should have voted for him. He lost by a little over a thousand votes.

The rest, I guess, voted the straight ticket.


Tom Dodge is a writer from Midlothian.