Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Ryan Walters jumps the shark
Nobody claims him or wants him, so how long can he keep the job he's not doing
The good news is nobody takes Ryan Walters seriously.
What he’s doing to sabotage the legitimate demands of his state superintendent’s office and his horrible running of the state board of education may be taken seriously, but Walters himself?
• Kook. Idiot. Charlatan. Con artist. Megalomaniac.
• Incapable empty suit suffering from small man’s syndrome.
People think he’s those things.
Even Governor Kevin Stitt believes he’s those things.
“I know he’s easy to pick on a little bit,” Stitt said, trying to defend Walters two months ago, though mostly admitting he’s a screw-up instead.
That was made clear again when state Republican house leaders and state Republican senate leaders went round and round and round trying to give free money to the parents of private school students precisely the way they wanted to give them that money and not the way the other body’s leaders wanted to give them that money.
It was made clear because, you know who wasn’t involved in the debate that eventually led to an agreement between the sides — spoiler, Oklahoma will soon be giving money away to the parents of private school students — destined to become state law?
Ryan Walters, that’s who.
Which makes perfect sense.
Because if anybody could blow up an historic — though horribly misguided — deal between sides in basic agreement from the beginning, Walters is that guy.
He’s the elected and alleged state superintendent of public instruction, yet not a player in the debate because he has no actual political capital to spend, trade or barter.
A literal empty suit that Stitt, house leaders and senate leaders were only too happy to remain a figurative million miles away.
Besides, it turns out, that’s all fine with Walters, because the job he really wants is to be head troll of the national Republican crazy train. Like, here’s a Monday tweet from the man himself.
Thanks for having me on @foxandfriends !
“Teachers unions want to take the Constitution and Bible out of schools and replace them with Gender Queer and Flamer.”
Easily the best part of that is the quote.
Did Walters record his appearance on Nitwits in the Morning, aka Fox and Friends, and scour it for his best line? Or did he record it and scour it for the line he thought would best trigger the great unwashed watchers of Nitwits in the Morning?
Was he quoting himself?
Or, upon review, did he realize he’d forgotten to say just the right thing bound to get him invited back to the show, to the next homophobia-fueled CPAC summit or the next circle jerk insurrection party brought to you by Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, Sebastian Gorka and Ginni Thomas and therefore quoted a line he’d wished he’d come up with in the first place?
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As a 30-year sportswriter I’ve tweeted out thousands of intros to my own stories trying to get them read and I don’t think I’ve ever quoted myself. Maybe I’ve repeated a line in the story, but it’s my Twitter, I’m the source, so what’s with the quote marks?
But Walters needed them.
For what, I can’t imagine.
Who knows what lurks in the small mind of a small man.
All we can really know is Walters cares not a wit about doing his job, his actual job, the one requiring he be in the headlines no more than a terrific home plate umpire, the 80 percent of the job he and all his predecessors, regardless of party, must do:
• Be an advocate for education.
• Secure all possible funding, beyond state coffers, for our schools.
• Protect students as best he and the state board can from hazing in athletics programs at Ringling, Kingfisher and everywhere else; from abuse in all of its forms perpetrated upon students by faculty and other students, too.
Indeed, only Tuesday, the state house and senate appropriations committees pushed through a bill forcing the state education department receive joint approval from both the house speaker and senate pro tem before it can choose not to apply for any federal grant funding previously received by the department prior to fiscal year 2023.
If that’s too wordy or hard to follow, it means the state legislature’s ready to force Walters to pursue all federal funding Joyce Hofmeister pursued in the job before him.
Read all about in Andrea Eger’s story for the Tulsa World, and note, too, that state rep Mark McBride, chair of the appropriations and budget education sub-committee, claims to have proof “that no new or grant renewal applications have been submitted in 2023” by the state board of education.
In fact, former state board grant writer Terri Grissom — “The only grant writer at the Education Department until her April 18 resignation,” according Eger’s story in The World — has claimed “not one grant application has been submitted since January,” potentially putting $106 million in annual funding at risk.
Oh, yeah, Grissom also claims Walters lied to to the state legislature on May 1 about exactly that.
Really, when you think about it, what the hell is Ryan Walters doing for anybody at the state capitol, anyway?
On the stuff he and his Republican brethren agree upon, none of that brethren have any use for him.
On the stuff our Republican dominated legislature would be demanding a state superintendent from either party be doing, Walters can’t be bothered to do it.
Then there’s Walters himself, a political embarrassment and pain in the ass all day every day, who lies, and who wants to deal with that?
Yeah, Republicans impeaching and removing a Republican officeholder would be bad for the brand, untidy to defend, perhaps a tiny opening for the other side come the next trip to the polls.
Then again, so, too, would be be losing tens and tens and tens of millions in annual education funding, not to mention some of these Republicans in the legislature really do care about the state and voters they represent, a few of them even for voters who didn’t vote for them.
And given that, in what world can Ryan Walters be allowed to keep doing the damage he keeps doing?
Hard to believe there’s one.