If you're a political junkie, there's been no better thrill ride than tracking the rise and fall of to-the-right-of-the-Tea Party Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina. The protegee of sometimes out-there libertarian-GOP 2008 presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul stunned politics watchers when a poll showed her closing in on a sitting U.S. senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson as the March 2 Republican primary neared -- a remarkable development that raised the possibility of a run-off with Gov. Rick Perry in an anything-can-happen year of anti-incumbent fervor.
But then Medina surely got knocked down a peg, if not several pegs, by an unlikely source: Glenn Beck, the non-titular head of the anti-Obama backlash. Last week, Beck interviewed Medina on his radio show and stunned her with a question -- did she think the U.S. government was involved in 9/11 -- which led to an equally stunning answer: "I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard." Medina's efforts to backpedal from that comment have not only been not very successful but linked her back to another mildly-popular-but-debunked idea, the "birther" theory that Obama is not a citizen.
Now, here's something new that may not help Medina either. Attytood has learned that the Texan is slated to appear at a Sunday San Antonio rally (confirmed on her schedule here) with the founder of the Oath Keepers, a new and highly controversial group of mostly former military and police officers that's attracted negative scrutiny from the likes of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Law Poverty Center for its notion that law-enforcement officers should disobey any orders deemed unconstitutional.
The Oath Keepers were founded shortly after Obama's inauguration by another Ron Paul acolyte, a former Army paratrooper and Yale Law grad named Stewart Rhodes. Its cornerstone is a list of 10 orders that members will not obey. The paranoia-infected list says an Oath Keeper will not "to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps" or "force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext." Another not-to-obey order on the list, involving state sovereignty, would surely appeal to Medina, who believes in the theory -- popular in the South in the era of segregation -- of "nullification," which means that states can elect not to follow laws handed down in Washington.
On Sunday, the Oath Keepers' Rhodes and gubernatorial hopeful Medina are slated to speak together at a San Antonio barbecue organized by an effort called Take Back Texas. A third speaker at that rally is slated to be a former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, also an activist with the Oath Keepers, who believes that local sheriffs are the ultimate law authority and who gained notoriety in the 1990s when he refused to enforce the federal Brady Bill gun law. "The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government," Mack writes on his website. Unlike Rhodes, appearing with Mack is nothing new for Debra Medina, who made several joint appearances with Mack in a Take Back Texas tour in December.
Medina's appearance with Rhodes and Mack on Sunday could cast a new spotlight on her indulgence of conspiracy theories -- but it could have been far, far worse for the Statehouse wannabe. Initially, Medina was also reported by Take Back Texas as a speaker at an earlier event Sunday in Austin that was to include a radio host named Jack Blood, whose Web site enthusiastically supports the alternative theories of 9/11 that got Medina into trouble on the Beck program. But the Austin rally has now been canceled.