Getting Schooled

A legendary debate teacher has a lesson plan to knock off Congressman John Culberson

If he's elected, he says, "I won't go to fund-raisers, I won't eat, meet or travel with lobbyists, I won't have them in the office. If a lobbyist wants to lobby, write a letter and we'll put it on the Congressional Web site and everybody here can see what he or she wants," he says.

If he's not elected, he says, he won't lose any sleep over it. "If they go out and vote like they've always voted," he says of his potential constituents, "then they get what they deserve."

If Culberson feels the race has tightened up in the final stages, then Henley predicts "You'll see negative radio...He'll be using my name and Susan's name and Nancy Pelosi, and Sheila Jackson Lee becoming the chair of the subcommittee on immigration...That's one of the telltale ways we'll know we're close."

Legendary debate teacher Jim Henley has a lesson plan to knock off Congressman John Culberson
Daniel Kramer
Legendary debate teacher Jim Henley has a lesson plan to knock off Congressman John Culberson
The Young Democrats of Lamar High hook up with Henley.
Photos by Daniel Kramer
The Young Democrats of Lamar High hook up with Henley.

And if those ads don't show up?

"It'll just mean he's still intellectually challenged. Or, yes, we're way off and we were just jousting at windmills or deluding ourselves totally, which is possible. It's possible but it's still worth the fight, by God -- I don't regret it one dadgum bit one way or the other.

"I'm retiring from Lanier after 20 years, and you can go quietly into the night and retire or give them one last lesson plan that they won't ever forget," he says. "Inspire them, get them involved, get them connected, let them know it's their responsibility to be involved in public service."

So maybe this grand lesson plan won't work, if the goal is to get elected to Congress. But maybe that isn't the most important goal, after all.

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