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Archive for December, 2008

Clair Nixon, professor of accounting in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M, who has served as bishop of a local Mormon congregation, has ten children. Recently he donated $3,000 to oppose same-sex marriage in California, an action that threatens to delegitimize the marriage of two fellow Aggies, John Scroggs and Paul Robles.

Part one of a series.

Jeffrey Puryear and Clair Nixon form the Aggie archetype. Both earned degrees from Texas A&M and both returned to their alma mater to contribute to its academic mission. Each is devoted to his family, work, and church, owns his own house and pays taxes—conforming in every way to the image that Texas A&M markets regarding the solid citizenship and family devotion practiced by Aggies worldwide.

John Scroggs and Paul Robles are also Texas A&M former students who have remained in Aggieland as faithful university employees. Although younger and not as far advanced in their careers, they also own their own home and pay taxes, serve jury duty, vote in local elections, and donate to charity. Each has lived in College Station for almost 20 years. Their maroon blood runs thick.

Only one characteristic differentiates Scroggs and Robles from most Aggies. They are a gay couple, long-time companions who took advantage of a brief window of opportunity to be married legally in California this past summer. Although breaking up another Aggie’s marriage is definitely not an activity encouraged by the Aggie Code of Honor, it’s precisely what Puryear and Nixon—and arguably many conservative Aggies—would like to do to these one-time students, classmates and dedicated Texas A&M employees. (more…)

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The former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club split a doubleheader last weekend.

Aggies and Iraqis took to their feet in response to George W. Bush, but W.’s reception on the College Station leg of his presidential adoration tour proved more accommodating.  Less than 48 hours after an Aggie graduation convocation warmly “whooped” a failed president who would have been jeered on most American campuses, Iraqis marched in support of journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, whose two-shoe pitch at Sunday’s Baghdad press conference spoiled any Bush attempt to claim respect from a country he invaded six years ago.

Friday’s crowd at Reed Arena, filled with a disproportionate share of America’s “25 percenters” who think highly of the Bush presidency, heard a one-line reference to the 21 Aggies who have died in the War on Terror, a casualty total second only to West Point’s.  Otherwise, Bush devoted most of his wartime references to living veterans and non-Texans—an Oregonian who visited the White House on artificial legs as the result of battlefield injuries and a 61-year-old military surgeon, a man Bush’s age, from Nevada who serves in Iraq. (more…)

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Eighty days after President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, a fire fight in Baghdad killed Jonathan Rozier, the first of 20 Aggies who would die in this unnecessary war. Five years will have passed when Bush addresses Texas A&M graduates Friday, but the dying continues and the commander-in-chief seems unrepentant.

Once again, Aggieland serves as a refuge for the Bush clan. Years after Pappy Bush located his presidential library here, Bush the Younger gives what could be the last college commencement speech of his presidency Friday. Texas A&M, once dubbed be the American university with the most nostalgia for Ronald Reagan, is one of the few civilian venues where Bush could expected to be received warmly by an academic convocation.

He needs us. His election-day approval rating stood at 25%, only one point higher than Richard Nixon at the depths of Watergate. Some 78% percent of Americans lack confidence in the economy, according to Gallup. Seven years after the 9/11 terrorists struck, the war in Afghanistan looks more bleak than ever, and despite some military success in Iraq, that adventure remains unpopular with the American public.

The campus where a student group threw raw eggs at a likeness of Barack Obama several weeks before the election seems perfectly tailored for a president who sexed up intelligence to justify invading Iraq, authorized kidnapping and torture after promising compassionate conservatism, and turned a balanced budget into a financial black hole. In the waning days of perhaps the most unsuccessful presidency in America’s history, President Bush found a university where he’s still admired. (more…)

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No Aggie Ring, but a Set of Senior Boots

When Robert Gates left Texas A&M for the Pentagon several years ago, at Pappy Bush’s behest to pull incompetent W.’s chestnuts out of the Iraq War fires, a debate raged on Aggie web forums:  Should possibly the greatest president in Texas A&M history be awarded the vaunted Aggie Ring?  Eventually, common sense prevailed and Gates assumed his position among A&M’s storied leaders, beside Earl Rudder and Sullivan Ross, but without the sacred ring one must earn through the student experience.  Instead, the Corps of Cadets that Gates joined on early-morning runs awarded him a pair of custom-made senior boots—which is no small honor for a non-student in Aggieland.

The rave reviews of the Gates administration stand in stark contrast to the enmity heaped upon his predecessor, Ray Bowen, and the lukewarm reception afford his successor, Elsa Murano.  Yet, his administration was not perfect, despite the Teflon coating that remains two years after he vacated the eighth floor of Rudder Tower.  With Gates’ willingness to stay on as Secretary of Defense under Barack Obama, not every Aggie’s choice for president, is it now time to seek a more critical examination of his four years as A&M’s president?  Will his willingness to serve a hated Democrat open the door to a critical review of his administration as our university’s leader? (more…)

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